Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Official

No fireworks this weekend. I was expecting this announcement - we're surrounded by fires already. They need firefighters on hand to put on the display, and they're all busy fighting fires. The air is so smoky, and I'm sure fireworks would add to the problem.

But it still makes me sad in a way. I love fireworks. I have such great memories of watching them with my parents when I was young - you could see the reflections in the Colorado River. There was a certain excitement about getting to stay up that late, as well.

Last year we ALMOST made it through without fears...Emme still wasn't crazy about them, but Jake loved the display. Even though he has problems with the loud noises and all the people milling about - just a mild sensory integration issue - he had so much fun. I was really hoping that this year my kids would learn to love the fireworks. Anderson's announced they will have theirs on August 30, and Redding hasn't named a date yet - but you know we'll be there when it happens.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Week to Remember

What a hard week. Fires all around - so many people's homes are threatened. One of my co-workers broke her leg, very badly. Surgery, bars, pins... Josie still hasn't found anywhere else to go, and I just can't keep her much longer. I don't want to have to take her to the mission, but I can't risk losing my lease. I pray each day she'll find someone who can take her in just for a while...if each of her friends let her stay for a few days, she'd be fine until she can get on welfare. No good news on her family front, and her nanny job fell through.

My kids are in South Dakota until Sunday. I miss them dreadfully, though I know it's wonderful they are visiting their dad's family - and he has a lot of family back there. I talked to Emme last night, and as I always do, I asked her, "What was the best thing that happened today?" I just about fell over laughing when she answered, "I got to clean Grandma's house! I got to squirt the hose, and spray the windows..." She's my little jelly-bean, and I love her so.

Jake's call was short. "Hi, Mom. I love you. Gotta go, bye." That's my boy.

And a friend of mine is having a baby today or tomorrow (they're starting the pitocin drip right about now). She's down at UC Davis, as the baby has some issues that couldn't be handled in Redding, but they have a terrific team of doctors down there. I can't wait to meet her little guy! He'll be in the hospital down there anywhere from 1 - 3 months.

So I plod along at work...yes, I'm on a break right now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Help! I need some....

Ok, here it is. As you may or may not know, I have a guest and her name is Josie. She just turned 20 and is pregnant. She has a poor relationship right now with her family down in Sonoma County.

I met her at the Stirring, and when I found she'd be homeless the following day, I invited her home. Well, of course. Who wouldn't? She's wonderful and sweet, but I have a 2 bedroom townhouse and two children already.

I picked her up the next day (did I mention she didn't have a car?) and she had exactly 3 suitcases of clothes and 2 grocery bags of food. That's it. She's sleeping in the kids' room, since she can't really sleep on the couch since she's pregnant, so my kids and I are all in one room.

She's been here now for nearly a month. I've been trying to encourage her to reconcile with her parents, and she's tried a bit, but perhaps it must be very hard to be 20 and on your own and have to go home and follow rules again. I don't know - I never had the chance.

My invitation didn't have a time limit, but I thought she'd be looking to find something else as soon as possible. I mean, who wants to live with a middle-aged woman and her two little kids?

I've been encouraging her to visit HUD and other agencies to get assistance in living....but I've never been through that myself, so it's a bit hard. I've been trying to get her together with a young woman I work with who was in her situation a few years ago and has ROCKED her way out. My coworker has a 3 year old daughter, an education, a good job, an apartment, a car....

But Josie has a lot of friends and is very busy and we haven't been able to coordinate a visit between the two.

She's taking a short-term nanny position Monday until July 3. I just don't think I'll be able to invite her back - I CAN'T jeopardize my lease, and my daughter has been showing some signs of kids don't take well to change (they love her, but are showing signs of stress). And my City of Redding bill has been through the roof with someone being home all day...

So, I'm throwing this out to the world, and sending it with prayers:

If anyone out there knows the way to maneuver public agencies (really her only option right now) please come forward! We could really use your help. I'd love to see her settled in a little apartment well before the baby comes. Or if you know someone who has a little mother-in-law unit or even just a room to rent..she does work one day a week and gets unemployment as well, so I would imagine she could pay you some kind of rent.

I tried calling those places that advertise themselves as helping young single women (you know who they are) and frankly, they were no help at all. Apparently they are gung-ho to help women decide not to abort, but after the decision is made, you're on your own...(sorry, that's a rant for another day).

Apparently, everyone thinks since she's living here with me I will continue to take care of her. I wish I could, but I just can't.

This is so difficult. I wish I could just keep her here as long as she needed, just like I wish I could adopt 10 more kids - but the reality is that I just don't have the room and I can't afford it.

Send me a message if you have any ideas, okay? Blessings to all who read this.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Redding's Next Big Star!

I missed Marilyn. We'd been friends since we met years ago (won't say how many). We were both at a group interview at a health club. Vogue Figure Control - we wore black leotards and tights with white smocks and carried clipboards, leading toning classes and instructing ladies in the use of machines that vibrated the fat right off their bodies.

I introduced her to her first husband. I'm godmother to her son. We walked 60 miles together in 3 days to raise money to fight breast cancer, just a month before her sister Dorothy succumbed.

My ex-husband was going to be taking a couple weekends "off" for golf tournaments, so I decided to take one weekend for me. Got a good fare to Los Angeles. Worked Friday until about 3:30 and drove to the Redding Airport.

I took my first flight when I was 18, and I loved it. The year I worked for my brother's robotic company, I traveled across the US with him. For 7 years I worked for a condo and villa vacation company, and traveled to Hawai'i about 4 times a year and Mexico 3. Flying was wonderful. There was nothing like the feeling of being in the air - helped, of course, by frequent upgrades to first class.

Something happened one time when I flew to Palm Springs to visit a friend. The turbulence was frightening. Only 11 people on the flight, no heat. We were all wrapped in blankets, and the FAs were handing out liquor as though it was water, during the few times they could walk around. After that, flying was not something I enjoyed, but rather dreaded.

For some reason, after my divorce, flying became okay again. Not the wonderful experience it had been, but certainly bearable.

Well, the flight to Arcata (on the way to Los Angeles?) was horrible. Thankfully, I had a little glass of a nice red wine that made it a little less scary. But not much. I was terrified. I prayed I'd see my little ones again.

The flight from Arcata to Los Angeles was interesting. A woman sat next to me, holding a book I loved, "Water for Elephants." I mentioned that, and she told me she wasn't going to talk during the flight because she was enjoying it so much. I had a good book, too.

We landed at LAX 25 minutes early. EARLY? What happens when you land early at LAX? You sit and wait. After I deplaned, I ran to the ladies' room (do you THINK I was going to disturb the reading woman?), then grabbed a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It was 9:00, and I knew I had a long night ahead. By the time I made it to the baggage carousel, my bag was a already coming down...the very first bag. A sign of good things to come.

Marilyn picked me up in a coworker's little hybrid was cute, but she said she was unused to driving it. We made it to Dockweiler Beach in no time at all.

Marilyn works in transportation in the film & TV industry. She's working on a small, low-budget film called, "How to Make Love to a Woman." They had already filmed the beach scenes and were working on the driving scenes. It was sooooo cool to see how they actually do all that stuff! I rode with Marilyn and the sound guys in a 15-passenger van. We had the equipment that recorded the sound transmitted from the car with the actors. Josh (the leading man) kept forgetting to roll up the driver's window, so they had to do many takes. I didn't care, I was having a great time.

Pretty soon it was around midnight. They wanted to film a scene where the actor's car is passed by an RV (with a married couple inside) and a Volkswagon bus full of seniors. They were short some background (they used to be called extras), though. They put a driver in the VW with a floppy hat to hide the fact that he was about 12. They had a driver for the RV, but no "wife." They asked me if I wanted to do it! Of course, I said yes. It only took a couple takes, and I don't even know if you'll be able to see me in the final cut, but it was a blast!

We finally made it home around 6am, after going to pick up Marilyn's car in Beverly Hills and dropping off the van. A few (very few) hours of sleep, and we were back at LAX picking up Marilyn's ex-husband (the one I introduced her to). We were all down there to celebrate their son's 23rd birthday, and he'd decided he wanted to go (just like he does every year) to Medieval Times.

I'd heard of it before, but had never visited. I thought it would just be totally corny, but it was actually fun, especially since we had a whole bunch of people. Bought lots of overpriced souvenirs for the kids. Had yummy, overpriced tropical drinks.

We were home and in bed by 10 that night, and that felt wonderful. I was soooo exhausted.

Sunday morning we got up early and went out for brunch before taking Gene (Marilyn's ex-husband) to the airport. It was a great little restaurant in El Segundo. After dropping Gene off, we got ready for the highlight of the weekend (hard to say that, because it was all so wonderful) - "A Chorus Line" at the Ahmanson Theatre.

When I was in college, I was a dancer...ok, I'd been a dancer most of my life...but my college years were spent with usually about 6 classes a week. Ballet, tap, jazz, modern. And I was in LOTS of musical theatre (South Pacific was my favorite). And I dreamed of being a gypsy. A Broadway gypsy.....and "A Chorus Line" was my favorite sound track. I was never able to go see it, but I played the album (yes, a record album) constantly.

I know every word to every song. Still, after all these years. And Marilyn got tickets for us to see it.

It exceeded my every expectation....

After dinner and a funky little Manhatten Beach restaurant, it was time to go back to the airport. The flight home (with no stops this time, thankfully) was blissfully uneventful.

And I think it's going to be a while before I fly again.

Monday, June 2, 2008

When exhaustion is good

I've returned from a quick trip to Los Angeles. Flying down Friday night, I was filled with anticipation, and it was better than I'd hoped. I kept thinking, "I have to remember every moment of this. Every feeling, every sight."

Too tired to write of it tonight, but I hope to get it all down soon. Right now I'm glad to be home, glad to be back with my babies.