I've been living in my head a lot today, so today is not a normal kind of a post, but more of a cerebral post, if you will. So if you're looking for funny or real life, this probably isn't the place today.
It's not so much politics as it is... bioethics.
We all know that Dick Cheney received a new heart. We've known for years that no matter what the guy did, his heart was no good. And I don't mean from a warm fuzzy, "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" kind of heart, although that didn't always appear so good either, but a mechanical/biological standpoint.
I've been rather amazed at how many people can't get past the fact he got a heart. It became a case of political clout, money, power, etc., all those things can evidently extend your life whereas if you're a poor sod, that nobody knows, you're destined to die.
Perhaps. Perhaps that really is it.
But I think there is more to this discussion than that. Let me state up front, if it had been any other 71 year old rich white guy, everyone would have looked away and this would not have been on anyone's radar. But the fact is, it was NOT some other rich 71 year old white guy, but Dick Cheney, who the average American views as evil. The fact he kind of comes across as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, doesn't help. (For the record, I'm not a fan. But I don't deny him the right to a life.)
Our local paper did an article today on the bioethics of 71 year old Mr. Cheney having received his 'new to him' heart. (Look at that picture and tell me he doesn't look like a nicer gentler Mr. Burns...) The focus... his age.
And here is my take. Ethics on who receives a new organ is much more complicated than age. Do we REALLY base such decisions on a number? Really?
Seventy-one is such a varied number. I know people who have been as old as crap at 71 (paternal grandfather) and people who could run circles around someone 20 years younger (my Dad and Mom) and I find it stunning that someone who claims to be a 'bioethics' expert would use just ONE variable upon THEIR determination on who should die and who should live.
I find that fascinating. Can I be that judge and jury?
The article was interesting in the fact that another doctor explained that Mr. Cheney probably did not receive a perfect heart. He probably received one that had some issues, one not suitable for someone who should be living a much longer time. It appears they probably bought him 5-10 years. And who knows what we'll have in 5-10 years. Mr. Cheney could be a candidate for a better newer high tech fake heart by then.
But I still found it fascinating, that the one person they were quoting as a bioethicist were really hung up on this number. This theory amongst bioethicists of the 'fair innings' argument, that someone who had lived a longer life, step aside for those who had... not.
They must not hang out with many people over age 65, and what a disappointment to be them. I think most of my friends are over age 65. They are all mentors in my life, one way or another, whether it be how I want to continue to live my life or the complete opposite; what I don't want to be like. The people I hang with all contribute significantly to society.
So shouldn't that be a factor too? Not an age factor, but let's look at future contributions. Does someone who is 71, who is active, has family that they love and who loves them, who has a future of things left that they'd like to accomplish, really worth less than someone who is 31 overall unhealthy, has no great plans, and is inactive?
Shouldn't other factors come into play like acceptability, overall health, and the future? Shouldn't who they love and who loves them come into play too?
People would be horrified if we used another number as a yardstick... IQ. If one were to even dare to use that number, people would come unhinged. Talks of the Third Reich would emerge. Yet, it's OK to use this number of age.
I think most of you know the story of my mother in law. It's been 12 years now since she dropped dead on the altar of the local Catholic Church while leading the rosary. I've not made it a secret I still miss her. It's been 19 months since my father in law died. I rarely think about it. I've not been secretive of that either.
But when she had her massive stroke, there was still a faint pulse and so she was hooked up to life support in an effort to save her. She was brain dead. Her heart was kept pumping, O2 forced into her lungs. It was not something she wanted, having a DNR, but it was done anyway... and we won't go there with me.
When I walked in the room I knew she was dead. I could feel it. The monitor may have been giving a steady 'beep... beep... beep', but she was gone. I could feel it when I took her hand and it had that feeling of clay that humans get when their souls are gone.
When the family finally moved into acceptance, some of you know that the subject of organ donation came up. It didn't happen, something I won't go into, but there was some discussion as to whether a 74 year old woman's heart was actually considered a viable donation.
I was kind of horrified, my argument being, isn't there someone close to her age that would benefit from her donation? Certainly it wouldn't be right to put her 74 year old heart in an 18 year old kid's body, but there wasn't someone in their 60's or above? And if I were on a list and I was 21 and my choice was dying or taking the heart of a 74 year old woman... guess what I'd choose? The heart that had been reliable for all those years in hopes I might get another 10 or 20.
There was NOTHING wrong with her heart. She'd taken care of herself, exercised, and had good genetics.
Yet it was not to be. I found it puzzling and still do.
So I find this whole conversation about Dick Cheney surely not about the Bioethics of giving a 71 year old man a heart, because if it were so, and the conversation were held with truly intelligent people, the argument would have far more factors than just a number.
I suspect it's because people don't like
Mr. Burns Dick Cheney, and therefore feel he is... unworthy.
We are in the throes of SATs. We're bracing for the roller coaster that is ... college apps.
Any parents out there that have experienced this know, having your teenager apply to college is a level of hell unto itself. We are hereby... on the cusp.
All year I've been hearing from my friends whose children are seniors, of schools they've applied to, been rejected from, accepted to, accepted to but with no scholarship.
It's not a little cup of crazy. It's a big frickin' gallon of insanity.
To spectators, there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason at times. I took a class earlier this year (surprise!) so I could try to get a handle on what works, what doesn't, and what to expect in my first born's toe dipping into the college application
Grades, extracurricular activities, the difficulty of classes, volunteer hours, class rankings, sports... it was a swirl of information we waded through. I was overwhelmed.
Was it too late? Why didn't I know the depth of the insanity when my son was in 8th grade? Would I have changed something? Would HE have changed something.
I made peace with it when I realized, we are where we are, he is who he is, and even if we knew then what we know now, we'd probably still be... right... here.
In Palm Beach County, where every child is obviously beautiful, brilliant and athletically inclined, mine are simply better looking than average, smarter than normal and not clumsy. Nothing about my children stands out and screams, "EXCEPTIONAL!"
My son has never really enjoyed team sports. He doesn't play them unless you count his playing football with his buddies in the backyard. He is quick as a rabbit and his friends who play ball constantly chide him to play as a receiver on their HS team. Dear old Mom and Pop have ultimate rule and have negated any thoughts and aspirations he may harbor.
My son is in band, but not one of those stand out musicians. He won't major in music. He doesn't even want to play in college. People don't hear him play and weep. He's just solid.
His grades are OK. He takes disorganized to such a level that he defines it.
He has the volunteer hours, will make Eagle Scout this year, and his class ranking is... well... he didn't drop out. Top 25% is where he seems to be settling.
So where does that leave us? That leaves us hinging on the SAT and the ACT. That leaves HIM hoping his mad test taking skillz will see him into the only State college he wants to go to... UCF, the second largest school in the United States, Arizona State being #1.
Say it isn't so. Say my son doesn't want to just blend with the masses; the college experience of 1000 testosterone and estrogen filled bodies in one giant auditorium. Although, I hear that has changed. I hear you can now take your classes from your laptop, while still wearing your jammies, in your bed... and never have to face society. Although, clothing is probably optional...
I fear for this future generation.
But that's where he wants to go, so he took the SAT for the first time a few weeks ago. And scores came out today. By Noon I had a text from him, "MOM. Go online and find my scores, please. I have to know." I didn't get fired from work, so evidently collegeboard.org isn't an illegal site although I do wonder what the IT guys think at times when going through the Stats.
His scores weren't bad for the first take, but they are so crazy lopsided, every college is going to look at his application and think, "Wha?"
He must retake. I informed him of that via txt and got a "Ergh".
Math and Reading both hovered around a 600 (math being the lesser), both of which can be brought up. So he'll be studying and retaking, hoping to bring them both up by 50 points.
Because... he scored a near perfect score in writing. My boy scored 750 on the writing portion. They're going to look at his SAT scores and scratch their heads. I don't know another kid whose scores were as lopsided as his...
He'll be pushing to get Eagle Scout by September. He needs it for his College Apps. I know if he applied to all the out of state public schools, he'd get into all of them. That seems to be a common thread. Schools love out of state tuition. But he needs to get into his in state school and so that's our big push.
The roller coaster that is College Applications starts in September. Good, bad and indifferent... it'll all be in our home.
And... I found out tonight... he's going to Prom. With a GIRL. Hunh.
My Mom sent me this video. Of course I'm extraordinarily fascinated by the science in creating his visual, but I found this entire topic fasincating as well.
Today is his service. May God watch over his family...
I found this today while reading the news. Remember the days when you could sleep through anything?
I miss those days. I can't remember the last time I slept... well. I sleep so poorly now, I'm perpetually exhausted. I came to bed the other night, and my husband who can sleep on a box of rocks, rolled over and rubbed my back quietly saying he hoped that it would be a better night since it is just a long string of sucky sleep nights.
There are nights I wonder why I even bother trying.
Anyway, so I was envious of this little guy as I laughed.
What I love about little kids, is if you just listen while they play, you learn so much. My boys had been playing in the sandbox with their cousin, keeping her entertained, and when they got tired and went back into the house, I told her she could keep playing and I'd sit outside with her.
I had a big cup of hot coffee and I curled up in the chair as she played in the sandbox.
You can see her little blue truck perched as if standing watch, while she digs a road for her little dump truck.
I sat there listening to her talk to herself. Big mountain formed, road dug in, she slowly made the little dump truck climb the road, similar to The Little Engine That Could, and in her sweet three year old voice, I heard her say, "It's OK. It's steep, but you can make it. And I know there are 'pider webs, but they won't hurt you. It's ok... you can do it..."
Her biggest fear right now are spider webs. I smiled as I heard her work through it with her little truck.
Then I thought to myself, "What a different world this would be if every child's biggest fear were... 'pider webs."
I am home, having spent the last two days loving on my two sweet nieces. They make me laugh.
The Great Flambina... she is not what she appears to be. She decided she was going to the grocery store to get some ice cream for Mr. T. (it was pretend, although T really did want ice cream) so she got all glammed up. She put on her hollywood sunglasses, her mardi gras beads, and got her special purse, put it on her forearm and said, "Buh bye! I'm going to get Ice Cream for T!" and off she walked to the front door.
However, if you'd stopped her and searched her purse, you'd have found it was full of matchbox cars, because my little glamorous, loves the dresses, purses, and shoes, niece... is REALLY REALLY into matchbox cars.
I frickin' love that.
And my eldest pulled up at the airport to gather his dear Mother and younger brothers and take them home.
He popped the trunk so T could load our bags and I looked in and saw this big pink thing.
T: Oh. That's Ringo's. It's a giant inflatable p-enis.
Me: You MUST be kidding me...
I got in the car and said, "There is a giant inflatable p-enis in your trunk."
Ringo, looking sideways at me: Uh yeah.
Me: First, I'm glad it's not a giant inflatable v-agina, but I think I'm owed the backstory on the item in your trunk.
Evidently it was his buddy's bday, someone got it for said buddy, said buddy didn't want it, and so it was stowed in my son's trunk.
I txt'd my husband, "Did you know that YOUR son has a giant inflatable p-enis in his trunk?"
Hunhead: Yes... I did. I had hoped that he would deflate it before he picked you up from the airport...
Me: No such luck.
I looked at my son and said, "Your Dad had hoped you'd have deflated it before you got me from the airport..."
Now we're doing 60 down I-95, he's focused on the road, "Yeah, but what a hassle. Then I'd have to eventually blow it back up!"
Me: Oh? And WHY would you have to blow it back up?
Ringo, completely shocked looking *drama*: Mom. What fun is a giant DEFLATED p-enis in the trunk of one's car?
There is that. That's what I get for asking...
Such sweetness in the morning with my baby nieces only to come home to giant inflatable sex organs in the back of my teenager's trunk...
Sidenote: Don't think for a minute I'm not thinking of making a fake giant Trojan package and stowing it in his trunk when he's not aware...
So Tim Tebow is probably not going to be with the Bronco's much longer. They've decided to take their chances with a chronically injured, very expensive QB with an excellent track record... when he was healthy.
That's fine. Really. It's their choice. I always thought John Elway was a snake in the grass and that just proves it to me. The Broncos can shove off.
The guys I feel bad for are the guys who really bonded with Tim and are left to know he was cast aside... it had all been a big lie. And they'll be fine with Peyton because Peyton is Peyton and an all around good guy.
Seriously. I'm a Manning fan.
Not an Elway fan.
Anyway, so there are hopes here in this house that Timbo will play for Jax. I think that Mr. T, who is Tim's biggest fan, has hopes that if Timbo ends up a Jag, that his Dad will drive him up to see a game. He's seen Timbo play many many times with UF, so it'll just be like icing to drive to Jax and see him play.
Me? I hope he goes to the Pats. I think he could learn a lot there and it wouldn't be bad for him.
How does this all seriously effect me? Remember Mr. T's birthday? What did I make him?
I made him a UF/Bronco's quilt. It was essentially a Tim Tebow quilt. And I KNEW, I'm not stupid, that Tim wouldn't be with the Broncos forever, but I figured we'd have a few seasons before John Elway cast him aside. It was inevitable. I just didn't think it was going to be... so soon.
So now Mr. T has this quilt with UF on one side and this HUGE reminder of Tim getting the shaft. I'm working on figuring out how to redo it... we have realized it is to be my summer project.
But I did tell him, we needed to give serious thought to this new backing. Maybe we can just go with a bright orange or blue and make it a pure UF quilt. Following Tim may not be such a good idea...
We are off for Atlanta tomorrow night, just me and the two younger boys. Bones seems to have great issue with the girls growing up and his not being there.
We were going to drive, but its nine hours, gas is getting expensive, there are tolls and food and my husband sat down and did the math and realized that for just a bit more, the three of us could fly and not spend 18 hours in the car... putting 1200 more miles on my car that already has 198,000. (My goal is 250K, but I may push for 300K...)
This is the Great Flambina on St. Patrick's Day.
And the Wee Flambina on the same day...
I'm looking forward to going, to love on them, dreading the email onslaught when I get back to work.
Bones... is in love with Whitney Houston's voice, in particular I Will Always Love You. All day I have either heard Whitney's voice blaring through my home or Bones' voice in falsetto.
I caught him juggling today while imitating Whitney. Seriously? Can you make that crap up?
My white 12 year old boy, singing falsetto I Will Always Love You, while juggling. In the rain. No less.
I tried to get some of it on video and what I got was his doing his Rain Run. I guess I've never posted that, but EVERY TIME it rains, he runs outside and does a couple laps around the backyard.
Then I as I tried to get him to sing and juggle, telling him it was for Mim and Big Daddy, I got an argument. While juggling. And wet.
So. Unfortunately, no vid. I'm working on it.
Seriously, Whitney is blaring on the stereo. I feel bad for Mr. T. And I keep hoping to sneak in and tape him singing, but it's like that frog from Bugs Bunny. I appear and he's a mute...
I take a couple days off of work, come back and the entire world goes sideways. Or feels like it.
Good Lord, the email. I opened it and thought, "I should either just live here or not come back next time I take time off..."
I looked over at my boss. He is so thin. He looks ragged out most of the time. The stress is eating away at him. I'm back to eating carbs... stress eating. All the weight he loses, I gain, evidently. I'm back to having to get out and exercise to stave off the pounds.
With that, it is Spring break and I realized, we hadn't been to the beach in awhile. Since I 'shun the sun', trying to stave off skin cancer (I think it's been six years since they burned something off my face), I only go to the beach in the last hours of the day.
My husband and I got sandwiches, dragged out the lawn chairs, packed up towels, and took the two younger boys to do the beach and dinner. We don't see my eldest much anymore. He's 17. I think this is a way for us to break free easily. When he goes away to college, I can rationalize that we didn't see much of him anyway.
I actually took this video from my phone while logged onto Youtube. This appears to be the best way. I struggle to upload still.
This is Bones at the Beach. He never tires of waves knocking him down. I never tire... of watching him.
I say often when we retire I'm moving to the mountains, but the sound of the ocean still soothes my soul. I'm feeling... very mellow.
Meanwhile, it is 10:00 at night and I'm craving scrambled eggs. What is up with that?!
I'm back from my conference. It was long, I'm tired, and I can't believe how much travel I have coming up.
I frickin' love Marine wives. I did my talk on Leadership (went VERY well, btw) and I found out later that all the Marine wives were googling JJDIDTIEBUCKLE and one of them was txting her husband during it. Frickin' cracked me up.
I'm in the bad books with some people much higher up the food chain then myself. Voting one's conscience and not going party line, will do that sometimes.
Kinda sucked having to stand up in front of hundreds of people, alone, and on a dias just kind of pronounced the suckiness of it all.
Knowing my single vote literally changed the entire meeting... absolutely highlighted the suckiness that is potentially my future.
Still. No regrets.
Spring break is here and my kids are completely relaxed and happy to be off school. I may be happier than they are.
The older boys both made honor roll. Ringo, my perpetually unorganized eldest son, was so excited he txt'd me while I was at my conference.
Not sure about Bones.
I was at the meeting for all the parents regarding his trip to San Antonio. The only two people I knew, men, were not there. So I sat alone, waiting for the meeting to begin.
All these Moms evidently knew each other. Art Moms. All of them were like, "OH! So good to you!! Yeah, so Suzie Q is singing with ABC studios now and then she got the lead part in this great play!... and... and..."
To which the rely was, "OH! Us too! Johnny got the lead solo at wondergig for kids and well... you know... all that travel..."
And on and on...
I sat there quietly thinking, "Are you frickin' kidding me? I just want my kid to get through high school. This is to keep him from the riff raff..."
I was pretty sad last week. This week it comes in waves, but last week... I was very sad.
I obviously put up a couple posts or three and I did have a couple readers email me, making sure I was OK. One such reader was my buddy, Eric, over at Straight White Guy, a former Marine.
I think most of you know, I've been good friends with Eric and his bride for about six years. My kids know them. We visit them once a year as a family and I go to his annual blogmeet in October. So there are six years of blogging and breaking bread twice a year for a few days.
So he sent me an email, just checking to make sure I was OK, and I sent him an email in return, assuring him all would be right, I would equilabrate, and then I went on some rant about how on top of it all, I had to give a seminar in Leadership this weekend.
It's true. I do. And it's not that I'm not prepared and I've never been a leader. I suspect I was asked by people much higher up the food chain than I, to give it for a reason. I've been writing it in my head since January; I'd just not put it to paper yet.
So off I shot this email, with I'm sure quite a frustrating tone, when I received one in return that said, "You should google JJDIDTIEBUCKLE. The Marine Corps has the market cornered on leadership. They do it all with acronyms."
Well, yes, I imagine they do. Have the market cornered on leadership. I just had to spend a few minutes trying to tie the Marine Corps's view on leadership with a volunteer women's organization, most of the women being... oh... 40-50 years older than the average Marine .
Not seeing much of a common denominator except... people are people.
So I googled it and found a great website and I shot him another email, "Right. So where do you find "Be Nice"?"
Within minutes I had a reply, "Try... Justice." I see that. In my lecture I tie it in with 'Tact', something I'm not so good at. I can be nice to people, but Tact is not my strong suit. My sister has called me Blunt and Insensitive.
I came by it honestly... from my Father.
So I kept reading and formulating the problems we have into words and I emailed him back, "And... how about, "Don't be a Control Freak?"
And the simple reply back was, "Bou, try... Delegate".
There you go.
So I'm using PARTS of JJDIDTIEBUCKLE as some of it doesn't really fit. Struggled to find where I could really put Endurance and it's not supposed to be a long speech.
I did speak a lot on Enthusiasm. I told them they didn't need pom poms. The Marines are big on Enthusiasm as it obviously made their list and I don't see any pom poms in the Marine Corps.
Only motivated men.
We'll see how it goes.
I keep laughing. "Bou, Try... Delegate". heh.
There are days when it all just goes to hell.
First, I hate that I have to prove myself to people after all this time. Bones is at this art school and they don't know me from Adam. They don't know what I've done with my life, what my capabilities are, or what kind of volunteer time I put in elsewhere. I'm just some other Mom.
This past November, I asked that when I chaperoned this next trip for the Boys Chorus, that they not make me room with the same Mom I roomed with last year. I absolutely cannot stand her. I'm not sure where I would begin. The fact she thinks she knows everything? The fact she never shuts up? The fact that when she rooms with someone she has absolutely NO respect for someone else and keeps the TV on all night long?
Folks, that is fine if that's what you do, but when someone is forced to bunk in with you, have some respect. Seriously. I don't watch TV AT.ALL so he can just imagine how bat frickin' crap crazy that made me.
So fast forward to today.
My trig student came to my house for me to help her with her homework. She didn't have her book, her notes were inadequate and if she'd been doing her homework, I'd not know because it all seemed new to her. Add to that the fact I've not done vectors in forever and a day and don't remember the formulas off the top of my head and there was frustration on my part.
I had the internet open, looking for some basics, knowing the rest would come back. But 30 minutes into it, I was stressed because I couldn't find what I needed and I thought, 'Who comes to a tutoring session and doesn't bring their materials?'
But she is sweet and I like her and I know she is flighty at times like my VERY OWN 17 year old.
Which brings me to... so we're 40 minutes into my helping her as I researched when my son calls me from the side of the road. The night before I'd printed out the forms he needed signed for his Volunteer hours that were due this past MONDAY. He was off to do more volunteer work.
Ringo: Hey. You know those volunteer forms you printed out for me?
Ringo: They flew out of the car.
Me: I'm sorry, but I think I heard you say, "they flew out of the car". What do you mean, they 'flew out of the car'?
Ringo: I have the windows open and they flew out of the car.
Me: Where are you?
Ringo: I pulled over on PGA to call you.
Me: Where are the forms?
Ringo: Somewhere on Northlake Blvd...
Me, LOUDLY: SON. You listen to me. This is what NORMAL PEOPLE DO. They ride with the a/c on and the windows up. We're in FLO-RI-DA. IF however, you want the windows open, you put those papers in a frickin' folder or somewhere where they DON'T BLOW OUT THE WINDOW!!!
Holy crap. I think I nearly had a stroke. The kid does more volunteer hours than just about any kid I know, but do you think he can get it documented?
Do you know what he said to me? "Mom. You need to relax. You get too uptight..."
So flash forward to this evening. I had a parents' meeting for this trip to San Antonio I'm chaperoning with the boys' chorus.
I open the folder... and there is her frickin' name as my roommate. I thought, "You must be kidding me. This absolutely cannot be happening."
Wednesday through Sunday with 190 12-13 year old kids and a woman who makes me certifiably insane.
And as I sifted through all the filghts, as all 190 are flying, but taking three different flights, I find that I have the ABSOLUTE last flight coming in, 9:40PM, back to West Palm Beach, and on Monday morning, I'm supposed to be at Tyndall AFB... 8AM.
I checked flights and the best I can do is leave here at 545AM and get there at around 930AM. It's the same frickin' state, but I have to travel through Atlanta.
Because you know the saying, "to get to hell, you have to go through Atlanta..."
Although I think there is a corollary about living with teenagers and hell... not sure what it is. But I know there is one...
I think one of the things I've been hearing a lot about Lex is that he died doing something he felt passionate about.
That has made me think.
I don't think I'm passionate about anything. Don't get me wrong, I have one of those full on personalities. If I'm committed, I'm fully committed and everyone knows it.
I was at a luncheon the other day and I said something... I guess rather strongly... and someone said, 'Bou, passionate? Phht. Not, Bou..." And I proceeded to be joked about for the next few minutes, which I personally thought was hilarious because... well, the women were funny, they're my friends and... they were right.
My overall attitude in life is 'take no prisoners'.
But in general, there isn't one THING I am passionate about. I may get passionate for a cause or passionate against an absurdity, but... there is nothing I do that someone would say, "Well, she died doing what she loves..." or "She died doing something she was passionate about."
Well, unless of course I died eating a doughnut. That's pathetic...
One day, one day, ... one day... I'll get this whole 'video from my phone to youtube' down.
One day it will happen.
I have this video of Bones practicing for his next vocal jury. He's just now memorizing a song and his voice is getting deeper and deeper. He's no longer comfortable at all in his head voice. He can't sing there consistently.
We had a lesson today and watching him attempt to fake it through words he doesn't know, was dang funny.
When I manage to get it to download onto Youtube, I'll post it. But for now, you have to use your imagination.
This time change thing is totally kicking my butt. We need to quit this nonsense.
There are some things that would change if I were Queen of my own Country. This time change nonsense is one.
And it's a running joke at work about "Bou's Country" or "If Bou were Queen..."
Last week someone behind me said, "I'm moving to her Country. It seems to make more sense" to which I replied, "There will be no foolishness..."
I stated some things that are happening locally that I'd overturn. For instance, there is a very rich man on trial for manslaughter. He killed a kid while drinking and driving. Cocaine may have been involved. He's going to get away with it. It made National news. The jerk adopted his girlfriend or some nonsense so he could hide his money.
I said, "There would be no trial. He'd just be executed."
Some logical engineer behind me said, "Umm... Bou... you're looking to start your own country, remember? Not take over this one..."
Right. Dang it.
I think my slogun would be "A Doughnut on Every Plate!"
I need to work on it...
As you know, my family is Catholic and I am not, however, I spend a lot of time volunteering at my kids' Catholic high school.
Being the Band Parent President means that I plan the band trip, working with the band staff and any other parent volunteers. This year the band is going to New Orleans.
On top of all the other things I've got going in, why did I sign up to be the band parent president? First, I was asked. Second, I've never planned a trip for 100 people and I thought, 'Hey, I wonder if I can handle the logistics of that? I've never done that before.'
I'm not going to get into what an absolute and total nightmare parts of it have been. But we're at the end stretch and that's all that really matters, right?
I got a call from the Band Director the other day and it went like this:
Band Director: The itinerary is great, Bou. It really is.
Band Director: You know the religious Ed coordinator is one of our chaperones, right?
Band Director: Well, I showed her the itinerary and she said, "This is great, but when are we going to Mass?"
Me: *blink* Uh oh.
Band Director: Yeah. We need to think. Remember the constraints. It has to be after 4PM on Saturday.
Me: Constraints?! Are you kidding me? Great.
Band Director: We just have to think.
Me: Father is a chaperone. Can't we just have Father do a quick Mass for us on Sunday at McDonald's?
Band Director: Nice try.
Fortunately, he found a way to make it work. The kids are going to some nice Church in downtown NOLA. It does seem right that they go to Mass there. Afterall, the State is actually divided into Parishes...
Meanwhile, the entire thought of having Father say Mass over some burgers at Noon on a Sunday with 100 kids... at McDonalds... amuses me. Heh.
I don't have a FB account. I don't do FB for many reasons, one is that it appears to be so invasive. It feels like inviting a Trojan Horse into one's home. And another is that given what I do for a living, I don't want to be high exposure. And another is there are just flat out people from my past I don't want to hear from again. And I don't want to do the whole 'ignore them' thing. I don't want to deal.
So I don't.
And I have always liked blogging and the community it has created. FB feels like fast food. Blogging feels like a nice long dinner that you savor. FB is instantaneous gratification. Blogging is kinda... not.
However, TGOO has an account that I sometimes log onto to go to my sister's page and see pictures of her babies or to go to my sons' accounts and make sure everything is on the up and up. (For those not in the know, TGOO is my Dad and stands for The Great Omnipotent One. He uses the FB account only to see pix of his grandbabies.)
The day after Lex died, someone had sent me a link to Lex's FB account. (How the man had time to blog and FB, I will never understand.) I clicked on it and saw the familiar pictures that were happy memories for him. On a lark I clicked 'Friends'.
I'm not sure exactly why I clicked. I guess I was looking to see what Bloggers were there, to see if I could find comfort in someone's words. But what I found instead... was someone I knew... here in West Palm Beach. Someone I know from a women's organization I'm with. Someone I hope my eldest will be doing an Eagle's Scout project for... at a Not for Profit at which she works.
I sat back in my chair and thought, "What the heck?"
I called one of our mutual friends and said, "Is she affiliated with the Navy in some way?" to which the reply was, "Oh yeah, she's AWESOME. She's in the Navy League with me and she's a real go getter and hard worker. Her husband was a Navy Captain before he died. I think submarines..."
I was all on board until that submarine comment and then I was thrown...
And I realized I had to say something. But what was my approach to be? And worse yet... we were attending this big event together, a fundraiser I help with... and what if she didn't know?! I surely couldn't ruin her day. I decided I'd try to pick up on if she knew and if she did not, I'd not say a word until the end of the day when I'd gently tell her to go to his blog.
So today I took a deep breath and went to her table to talk to her about the Project my son wants to work on for her and to ask her, "So.... I saw on FB you know Carroll LeFon. How do you know him?"
And the tone of her answer indicated to me that she knew. She told me that her husband was a pilot and that he'd been Lex's CO in Japan.
I know that I kept up my end of the conversation, but I swear there was a momentary pause on my part where I did a *blink*. Because in my mind? It was racing with "Holy crap... what is the frickin' probability of this?"
And I realized... I KNEW who her husband was. I'd read about him. And she confirmed that Lex in fact had done a post on him. BBSOB. I remembered that post so well... it was the post that he lamented he'd never have the skills of his CO, who had come up from enlisted, who knew their dreams, and could speak to them without being patronizing.
I remembered it. She confirmed it.
I went back to my seat trying to figure out, "Why? Why did that post hit me so much that I could remember so much of it? That I remembered her husband's career?"
When I got home, I immediately googled the post, trying to put the pieces together.
And then it occured to me... the big picture. The big huge damn picture.
Every morning I read the obits. I know, it's morbid to some, and I don't remember when I started doing it, but I do it. I'm always kind of fascinated by the things people did in their lives. I do a quick skim and only truly read those that catch my eye, but one morning in November one particular obit did.
Military obits... I always read them. They deserve to be read. Someone took the time to tell us about their loved one's service, then I'm going to take the time to read it. This one particular obit was of someone much too young.
As I read through it, it said, 'Retired Navy Captain', "F/A-18 pilot", and it named some ships. "Hunh," I thought, "I wonder if Lex knew this man..."
So I took the link and shot it over to Lex with the gentleman's name, and I got a reply back that told me that not only did he know him, but he'd posted about him a few days before.
I jumped over to his blog, and there was an entire post on the great leadership of Turk Green. Somehow I had missed that entire day's group of posts and I know that because... I actually commented on the post.
So I'm finding it very odd, that I accidentally notified him of a death of someone he had a profound respect for, a man I had no clue who he was, just a fascinating obit, only to find out that I know the wife... and I didn't realize except for Lex's passing.
And I think I needed to see her and know who she was because she was married to a great man and I know that his death absolutely devastated her, yet here she is, pushing forward. She's OK. She gave me hope that Lex's wife will be too.
And my comment over there seems so eery now. "I hope his family gets a chance to see this entry… his children need to know what you think, a perspective of their father they never did see because he was their father, not their coworker or boss. Children can never hear enough how wonderful their parent was… never. I think its healing." It is what I hope for Lex's children... that they read all the tributes and understand what a great Man he was... from an adult perspective.
The world can seem so large and scary sometimes. Other times, it feels as small as a rubber ball...
I have a routine in the morning. I get up, make the boys' lunch, putter around the kitchen, help them get out the door (now that I don't drive anyone) and then I come through, check my email, and read Lex.
From there my day begins. I did it again this morning. I think his blog is on 14 pages. Sometimes Lex would go out of town and he'd tell us to talk amongst ourselves. I didn't always participate, but I always grinned as his other commenters ran amok in his comments. I'd typically chime in as we'd try to get his blog to another page. "How many pages do you think his blog will let us get to in comments?", as we'd push for page 4.
I don't want it to be at 14 pages. I want it to be at a single page and I want a new post from HIM. I want to know how yesterday's flight went or his take on something that our government has done or something about his family. I want to see the high school graduation of his youngest, the college graduation of his middle, and the one day marriage of his eldest.... and maybe grandkids one day.
But I can't have it.
My work life and my home life are delineated. I am the master of compartmentalization. I do not bring the stress of work home nor do I take the stress of home to work.
So good am I at this, that at the end of every day at work, I write down exactly what I did and what I need to do the next morning, for if I don't, I'll log in the next and stare blankly at the screen. I do a complete and total brain dump every day before I leave.
Coping. If I brought home the stresses of my job, compounded with the emotional needs of three teenage boys, and the drama in their lives, and then the drama of any volunteer work I do, plus dealing with the ins and outs of running a house, I'd have a brain freeze and be unable to function.
But Lex was the one thing that bridged the two. If the system was too slow at work, chunking through to log me on, a 10 minute ordeal, I'd pop open my cell phone and go to Lex's blog and look for updates in posts or comments.
In the mornings, sometimes someone compiles for us a bunch of defense articles, from around the globe. We get stuff on corporate espionage, the newest jets or propulsion systems, the Chinese, what's going on in congress as everyone wrangles for money for their pet projects, space exploration... all of it. Someone takes the time to put the highlights in an email and then sends it to us. It wasn't uncommon for me to sift through it, pick out the things I thought Lex might like and forward it to him, always with the understanding, "No hat tip" and a quick, 'No need to reply. Just FYI".
I figured he got the stuff from scads of people, I was just one in hundreds who sent him email, and it was irrelevant it came from me.
There were times I was afraid he'd quit blogging. Things went sideways at home or at work or both, and he'd vent a bit and ALL of us would say, "We're fine. Come back when you're ready. We'll wait as long as it takes." I figured if I fed him stuff, it would help him find something to quickly put up when he was riding the tail of the tiger of life... and he'd keep the doors open.
Sometimes an item might make his blog. Sometimes not. I didn't care.
I logged on yesterday to check my email and there sat the newest defense assessment. I didn't even open it. I felt my heart squeeze and I hit delete.
He didn't read me; I'm not sure he even liked me. And neither of those things mattered to me either because I only wanted to read him and *I* liked HIM and what came out of his head. It was a one way street and I was completely and utterly content just basking in his brilliance and being privy to how much he loved his family and his Country.
I'm reassessing my life... again. I've lost more than a blog I read every morning. I lost someone I felt I'd gotten to know over the past eight years as a guide of sorts. His blog was the wake up, get a good cup of coffee, sit down and either be prepared to be amazed by his mad writing skillz, to laugh, or to just... be.
I think that's it. His place was a place... I could just be. It was safe.
I got a call yesterday from the lead engineer coordinating my May trip. I listened to her message and all I could think of is, "I don't want to go anymore." I want to just... be.
I need to be comfortable with where I am. I'm not going to climb the corporate ladder. That's behind me and for the young people. I don't need to be relevant in the workforce. I'm in a cube, that is fine. Just let me give my 200% when I'm there, pay me my honest wage, and let me go home.
I've been debating giving up blogging. And I might. I didn't start blogging because of Lex, but I think I may have continued a lot longer than I would have because of him. His writing motivated to write. His blog kept my toes in the water when I was just mentally done with life and this blog felt like cement shoes.
After 9.11 I turned off the TV. I'm very honest about it. I couldn't cope with what the media was constantly throwing at me. I was going into sensory overload so I switched it off. In turn I've wondered if Lex's death will be the catalyst of turning out the lights here. I always checked his blog before I checked mine. Now it hurts and coping is a struggle.
There were some great people commenting over at his blog. They raised the bar in conversation. I'm not near as smart as most of them and so I'd watch and listen. And we've lost that too. I'll probably never run across them again. I don't have the type of blog they read, I'm not the type of person they'd probably hang with in real life, and I don't visit political or Mil-blogs.
Lex was a conglomeration of everything.
After the shock of his death started to become my new norm, after the sickness I felt for his family had settled in, I started to think about his commenters. My first blog thought was "OMG. Marianne Matthews..." A longtime commenter of his, an octagenarian from what she has said, wise and wonderful and who I knew regarded him as a son. I was sick for her too. She is tough and has dealt with some horrific losses in her life... but I just didn't want this for her.
I am going to miss everyone over there. They all brought something different to the table, in particular Fliterman, who they were all over for his vast different views, a man who stood his ground, and who the commenters were quick to point out... they may disagree with him, but they respected him.
The toughest comment to read, of the nearly 1000 comments, was from his commenter Airmail. It read simply, "Lex was my friend." I choke up when I think of it.
I suspect I won't be going over anymore... unless of course someone can convince Lex's son, SNO, to take the keys. Otherwise, it is too painful.
I will more than likely continue to blog, although I do know the end is nearing. It won't be the same. Things change. But I started to blog as a catharsis for me and to keep my parents informed as to the ongoings of my children, their grandchildren. I have always blogged for me, not concerned about readership or comments. But it is difficult to log on... as I never wrote until I read Lex first.
The morning I knew his death to be true, I said to my husband, "He is gone. He really is gone." And my husband replied, "Bou, hun, we saw the picture last night of the accident. We knew it was his tail number. Yes... he is gone."
And as Lex would say... 'Tis to weep.
I received a call last night from Tammi. She wanted to make sure I didn't read it in a blog or hear it through chatter.
She's called to tell me that Lex had died in a crash out at Fallon. He'd been flying a Kfir for a private company contracted out to do adversarial work for the Navy.
We waited it out in his comments last night, waiting for confirmation. Someone would know something, and although I knew already, and remained silent, I guess inside I still wanted to hear that it was not true.
It really was someone else that had climbed into his plane that day, even though the someone she knew saw his tailnumber.
I'll probably write more about Lex and my seven years of reading him. But right now, I'm just too damn devastated. It takes my breath away thinking of his wife and his kids. I can almost physically feel my heart hurt for them.
Boudicca's Voice may be my home, but Neptunus Lex was my home away from home. He was the only blog I read consistently. If the comments were lively, I'd go over 3, 4, 5, 10 times a day. I commented there pretty regularly, whereas over the years I have grown more silent elsewhere. It was a place where people could politically differ, although mostly they did not, and intellectual discourse prevailed with a demanded modicum of civility by the host.
And Lex didn't really have to demand it. Ever the gentleman who had garnered respect from his legions, nobody crossed the line. It was Lex's home and there would be polite discourse, even if that line was traveled very tightly sometimes.
I was actually one of the few women that commented over there frequently. Lex knew that I didn't always agree with him politically, but I always respected where he was coming from. I'd email him sometimes and tell him... that there was grounded thought in his opinion and I loved that.
And this post is longer than I intended, as I'm sitting here crying... again... but it was in his post Streamer yesterday where I was the first commenter. Reading about his drag chute malfunction, I put that I was glad I worked in a cube. In a response to one of his other commenters, I went the next step and said I didn't know how Lex did what he did.
And I stopped short, I actually erased the sentence I had next which was "And I don't know how his wife does what she does, knowing these things happen..."
I almost sent him an email yesterday telling him, "Does your wife read your blog? Seriously. I'd have a stroke..."
But I didn't, and it's one of those times that I'm glad that I was overcome by events and didn't throw it out there. It would be there forever and would sicken me.
More than I am.
So I'm processing through this. I'm really really really struggling. In reality, he was the only mil-blog I read. He was a part of my daily life, his politics, his take on life, his family... the all girls spending team.
I struggle. Prayers to The Hobbit and his kids. Carroll LeFon was 51.
The proverbial wind has been knocked from my sails.
This blog will be silent for awhile. I'm trying to cope.
I'll be back... when it is right.
Over at Pamibe's she has this very funny post about graphics she's found that remind her of bloggers.
I made the list and I laughed.
My favorite, however, was the first, Jimbo's and all of you know, Jimbo hates gators.
And for you math geeks that might remember the long problem I did for a girl I tutor in Trig, but don't know why I was off by that small margin, Carl and Peggy having gotten the same answer...
... it is because I changed my cos(-u) to -cos(u) which is incorrect. In my pushing my signs around I erroneously negated it. It should have been +cos(u).
Anyway. Right. I meant to clarify that in the comments of that post and forgot.
My son turned 17 today. Actually, he turned 17 about 23 minutes ago, looking at the clock.
I'm not sure where time is going. But it is going too quickly.
There have been big changes in the last 12 months. He's been getting ready for the SATs. Mr. Procastinator, Mr. Mellow, pushed me to get him an SAT prep class. He never misses a class, he's always ready, and his teachers email me frequently. He is slated to do, 'competitively', which is good since his grades are not really.
It's not that they're bad grades, but he's just not great. He's never hit full stride in the classroom, although this is the year he's been putting in far more effort. And... his teachers like him.
He seems to have accepted more the fact he is not going to get taller than he is, which is not big. He seems to have accepted more the hand he's been dealt, but every day is a new day and I think being a teenager, is more about learning to accept who you are and how to handle it in life.
In the last year I've seen some odd personal growth I didn't see coming.
He's really into playing football with his friends. He's a receiver. His friends are big big kids and Ringo is evidently fast as hell and very agile and he's smart, so he fits in and they're good to him... they WANT him on their teams.
He's more of an artist than I expected. I think he may be more 'evenly brained' than I am. I'm not very creative. A few weeks ago, I learned he sings and sings well. Last month I found his sketch pad for his Drawing elective and found this:
I know, nothing fancy, but the kid has never picked up a pencil to draw in his life, and in taking an elective 'because it was there', two weeks into it, this is what I find. Thankfully, it wasn't a naked woman, something I know his father was prone to draw at that age, something I don't press as to how or what he knew of naked women at 17, but I was surprised at how it was pretty dang good considering... the kid doesn't draw.
This semester the drummer had to drop out of Jazz band. Ringo volunteered to fill in. He's miserable. He's 8 shades of miserable and counting down the days until the end of the semester so he can hand the sticks back and go back to playing bass.
He's tired of being yelled at. I don't get involved in the relationship between him and the band director. That's his to figure out, but although it's been a learning experience, what he's really learned is he never wants to play drums in a ensemble. He just likes to play for him.
His grades are better than ever before. I am attributing it to a maturation. He's struggling as to what he wants to study. He waffles between Finance and Medicine.
He'll probably study neither. I have spoken to him of enlisting until he feels more comfortable growing up. He says no, but I know he thinks about it. He'd probably go into the Marines if he did anything.
He's my thinker, the one content to be alone, OK with silence.
He's my son that people are starting to love. He's the son that people say, "He's got a great sense of humor" and I say, "I'm glad you see it..." and the reply is, "How can you not?"
A kid slowly coming out of his shell. A kid that his SAT prep teachers told me leads the class in discussions, for which they are thankful.
A kid whose math teacher says to me, "He's so smart and I get so aggravated. I could shake him!" and I reply, "Me too! We're getting there! We are!"
I don't know what's going to happen to him. I don't have that crystal ball, although I wish often I did, moreso for him than my others. In all honesty, I think I worry about him the most.
He's the kid... that looks the most like my family, with the dark tendancies of his Italian father's, a combination of my mother's side and my paternal grandfather. Odd how genetics work.
And so... to my son, Ringo, on his 17th I say, "Happy Birthday, Ringo. Should all the children in this world be loved as much as you... I suspect that there would be far fewer problems and this world would be a much better place."
I didn't work long today as another part of my life had gone sideways. I walked in at close to noon, just going in to check my email status as it appears I'll be going out to Tyndall for a week in May.
I stopped by the front desk to the building to talk to the woman who mans it. Out of the corner of my eye, at the back door, I saw a group of teenagers.
Me: Hunh. Did someone bring their kids in so they could all go out to lunch? An impromptu take your kid to work day?
Frontdesk, craning to see the backdoor: Wait. Who is that? They can't be in here if they didn't sign in...
Me: Are you sure they didn't sign in?
Frontdesk: Positive. This is a secured facility...
I got kind of wide eyed and said 'OK...' and I left for her to do her job.
Now we're not an armed facility, but folks that I work with do have Secret Clearances. I, fortunately, do not. That is a REAL hassle only being able to work in certain rooms and all the other crap that comes with it. No thanks.
An hour later, I was leaving to get one of my kids from school when the woman at the Front Desk stopped me.
Frontdesk: Bou, I wanted to tell you, that JT (the head of our Security Dept) and I looked up the security films and he told me to tell you that he wants to make sure you ALWAYS feel comfortable stopping someone if you don't think they belong in this building. This is what we want. We want people to let us know when something doesn't feel right. But... we also want you to know... those weren't teenagers. Those were new engineers hired upstairs in Mike's group.
Me: Holy crap.
Frontdesk, laughing: Yeah. You probably don't interface with them much.
Me: No, not at all. I work field problems. Holy crap. Do you have any idea HOW OLD I feel? They are new engineers here? I thought they were frickin' TEENAGERS coming to meet Dad for lunch.
Frontdesk: bwhahahahahaha! If I had seen their faces, I would have recognized them, but I could only see from behind.
Nice. I'm so old that when we have new hires, I think they're someone's kids.
I hate it when that happens.
And I'm going to be out in the field in May and I know dang well I'm going to be old enough to be the mother of all those mechanics. Last time I was in the field, it was the other way around... I was old enough to be everyone's daughter.