Salami and my Mom

When I was a small child, my mother and I were on the way to some event. I think a family picnic, but I don’t remember for sure. I was in charge of carrying this huge tray of salami. I remember Mom putting me in the back seat, handing the tray to me, and telling me it’s ok to not wear my seatbelt, just this once. Mom was, for the record, ahead of her time. We always wore seat belts, even back in the 70’s, well before they were required. Kudos, Mom.

Now, it is a well-known fact that I am a flat-out whore for salami. I love that stuff. Always have. So as we were driving along, I was sneaking little slices of the delicious cured goodness. I couldn’t believe my luck, alone in the back seat with enough salami to choke a horse.  I was careful though, peeling pieces off the tray in a pattern, so it would look like it was supposed to be that way.  Mom would, I was sure, just think she arranged it like that.

As I reached for another piece, it was to be my last I promised myself, the tray flew from my hands, the world outside the windows blurred, and I hit the door on the right side of the car with such violence I remember the impact forty years later. Then I hit the roof of the car. I was thrown back to the left side of the car, and maybe the roof again before I finally came to rest on the floorboard.

Salami was everywhere. It literally rained down on me, but I didn’t appreciate it at all. I was too numb. If I had thought to think anything at all, I suspect it would have been to mourn the loss of all that salami. It was a BIG tray. I should have eaten more.

In my childhood lack of experience, I was unable to comprehend what happened. Before I could even consider it, my mother pulled me out of the car. Before I had even figured out what happened, she had me sitting away from the smoking, crushed wreckage, on the hood of a bystander’s car.

I am pretty sure I hadn’t breathed yet. But then I saw her face, her eyes wide with fear, I felt her hands brushing my hair back and pulling salami out of it. So much salami. I heard her ragged breathing. That silence that follows a major car accident finally fell away, pulling the rest of the world into our emergency and snapping me out of my shock. All of the uncertainty and fear landed on me, hitting as hard as the impact of the collision did. I started crying, uncontrollable heaving sobs. I didn’t even know what I was crying about, I don’t like to think it was about the salami – but perhaps.

More than anything, in a barrage of really clear memories, the one that stands out the most is the sound of my mother laughing at me. As I cried hysterically, my mother laughed.

In my biggest time of need, my mother laughed at me and it hurt. At my very core, far deeper than the neck injury I sustained in the crash. Her laughter carried life lessons with it. I learned that one should not show emotion. Tears, fear, and emotions, are things to be laughed at. And love is not something that will protect you. She didn’t mean to teach me those lessons, but then again the lessons that stick with our children are always the ones we don’t mean to give them, I think.

Many years after our car accident, I got married and had kids of my own. One day I lost my son for about 2 seconds. Seriously, it was only a couple of seconds. But in that time, I fully expected the world to stop. My mind flew into a long, long list of actionable tasks. I had to block all the exits, guard the bathrooms, search the far reaches of the store, I needed the store staff to take action right that second. I needed my husband to help me. I needed my son. More than anything ever on the face of this Earth, I needed my son. All that is evil and bad in this world, a life without him, flashed before me in that one small moment of time.

Then he came wandering up to me, “Hi, Mom!” Everything came back. All that weight that was on me, even only if for a moment, lifted, and I thought I would float away with the freedom of it.

Then I laughed – and I remembered the salami. I hadn’t thought about it in years. This wasn’t funny. There was nothing funny happening. I almost lost my son – maybe not really, but it felt like it. Instead, he was in my arms. Safe and sound. Laughter was just my reaction. My own sort of hysterical relief.

I remembered my mother’s laughter that day, sitting on the hood of that stranger’s car picking salami out of my hair.  And, for the first time in my life, I appreciated her reaction. I appreciated the trauma she had just lived through when she was laughing. My mother had a couple of seconds where she didn’t know if her daughter was alive or dead. Then, despite her own painful injuries, she had to dig into a completely crushed car to get me out and find a safe place to put me. Then when I finally made noise, when I finally cried, she reacted the only way she could. All the joy and love that she had for me slammed down on her with a weight that could only bring laughter. She wasn’t laughing at me because she thought I was stupid for crying. She was laughing because she still had her daughter, and she loved me. She imagined darkness and was suddenly bathed in light. That is indeed something to laugh about.

So, Mom, I’m sorry it took me so long to understand. But that’s the way, right? We don’t understand anything about our mothers until we become mothers ourselves. I will not claim that our relationship is without flaws, but I love you very much, and I know you love me too. I think our relationship is stronger for the flaws. I think we are more honest with each other than many mothers and daughters. And I love you for that. I look forward to more coffee dates with you in the near future- and I swear it’s not just because of your cool ass coffee maker.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Future

I wrote this on the last day of 2016.  I almost didn’t post it, because we are inundated with such posts this time of year.  But, because I don’t post to my blog nearly enough, I am posting it anyway.  

2016. Yeah. It was…. a lot.

We lost much in 2016. Art and culture took the biggest hit ever, I think. America stands once more divided. I’ve lost friends and family over politics and the inability to debate with grown up words. We will lose more in 2017 if we don’t stand up and fight.  I mean really fight not just talk about fighting and not just sharing Facebook posts saying we support.  So many of the qualities that make us great are on the line and if we meet it with apathy we will lose. We must fight for equality, justice, clean water, human dignity, and our right to live in peace. We must fight to remind those who would oppress our words, our willingness to stand up or sit down or raise a fist or march in` protest that freedom of speech is our right, our obligation, and it applies to all of us. It applies most when our message is difficult to hear and especially when our words and actions challenge the status quo.

2016 had good in it too. Think of Panda Bears and Tigers, their numbers are growing for the first time in generations. Huge strides have been made in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Unemployment is so low that most who want a job have a job. Individuals are rising to their calling and doing great things. The Black Lives Matter movement found new traction with main stream media and society. We learned that it is not ok to water down their message with All Lives Matter.

So much, good and so much bad. 2016 was a year we will never forget. But the one thing I know is that there is hope (yes, I would have said that even if I didn’t just see the new Star Wars movie). There is always hope. And, if I squint my eyes and tilt my head just the right way, I can see a great and bright future in front of us.

On the personal side:

I saw my son go off to college. My throat was tight and my eyes stung, but the rest of me was all pride. He can’t change the world if he stays home forever. He knows what is on his plate. Sometimes it weighs him down a little, but he gets how important he and his generation are to us, more than ever now. Great things are coming from my quiet one, I know it.

My daughter has changed so much in the last 12 months. She is full on teenager now. But, instead of tantrums and craziness (OK there are some of those), she is all about love and joy. She still holds my hand when we walk and offers hugs and cuddles freely. She still jokes with her dad – like constantly but they seem to like it. She is also a straight A student (except for an unfair grade in PE as a result of her asthma), and is reaching for her life’s goals at the ripe old age of 13.

My husband grew his business. He is branching out into new and amazing products. He has increased the scope of shows he does. He brought his art to the freaking Alameda County Fair. It was amazing. He connects with his customers on a level that is impossible to describe.  And all along he continues to be a damn good husband and father too.

I finished my book and started querying it. Slowly. Ever so slowly. I’m like fucking Eeyore with my book, but I’ll get there. It was huge to type the last word and swear to myself that it was done. To write the best book I was able for my skill set was all I wanted to do and I did it. I also got to read some great works from some of my writing friends. I grew and learned new things in my job. Moving forward…always moving forward.

I think 2017 will be a great year for the Gonsalves Jojola household.  Chris has even greater plans for his business.  I have established goals for my writing.  I am developing a great idea for my otherwise useless blog.  My kids will continue to grow and thrive.  I am thankful, so thankful, for our whole big-crazy-stupid family and all our friends – each one brings light and joy to our days.  Our family enters the new year strong, happy, and filled with more love than I feel worthy of taking. 

So yeah, 2016 was a challenging year and 2017 will have its share of challenges, but with a little luck and a lot of hard work in 365 days we can celebrate the passing of a great year. 

Sunset in Maui

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Pretend this is Everest with the understanding that Everest pictures are expensive and I'm poor.

Pretend this is Everest with the understanding that Everest pictures are expensive and I’m poor.

I have officially queried Palisade. I have a few more to send out this week, then bunch more in a few weeks when I don’t hear from anyone yet, but whew.

Part of me wants to jump up and down like a kid in a candy store: OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD!

Another part of me wants to collapse on account of birthing babies is hard, and that’s what I feel like I’ve done.

Another part of me wants to open Scrivener right now and start writing any one of the 50,000 other books floating around in my head.

But more than anything, I want to congratulate myself. I’m not a narcissist, I swear. But there are times when patting yourself on the back is fine. This is one of those times. I did it. I really, actually, finally (take that adverb haters) did it.

From day one I said I didn’t know if anyone but me would ever read the thing, but my number one goal was always to finish it. I’ve done that. I finished a book, a 98,000 (down from 105,000 mind you) word book. I can die saying I wrote a complete, polished book. Come on! That’s cool!

That was my goal and, as far as writing goes, may be my greatest life accomplishment. I hope not. But if it is, I can live with that. Happily. I’ve gone farther than most do. I climbed my Everest. I wrote a book I believe in. Now if I can find an agent who believes as much as I do, I might actually get it published one day. That’d be icing on my Everest.

Every spare minute for the past two years was focused on Palisade. When not working, spending time with hubby and kids, or doing chores, I was writing Palisade. I rarely allowed time for anything else, must to all my loved ones annoyance I’m sure. So now what?

First I probably need to tell my family and friends I love them and thank them for all their patience and support – though that’s why we have dedication pages, so never mind. Back to writing.

Some thoughts for the next project:

I need to figure out how to blog things people might want to read. I can get back to the Palisade pre-stories I started writing. Hubby and I have a cool project that combines his art and my writing, perhaps we could go there finally. Of course, Palisade 2 is in my head. I have a non Sci-Fi book idea that is near the top of my list. I’m working on a poetry project with a writing group, I can dedicate more time to. So many ideas!

This is more a journal entry than a blog – see what I mean by needing to learn what to blog about? But I feel like I’m standing between two journeys, always The Fool, and I like to document these moments.

One more time: OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD!

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Natalee the Dancer

Natalee Back Stage 6-25-16 edited

My ballerina in the wings before the show.

My amazing daughter just finished her dance “season”. When I first brought her to the dance studio she was still in diapers. She wouldn’t go out on the floor without me, so I went out and held her hand while she did her first port de bras and her first chasse. Now she does her own hair and make up for shows. She does things on the dance floor that I could never do in my wildest dreams.

She dances with Fusion Dance Project. On any given day at FDP you’ll see kids cry, laugh, get in little spats with each other, roll their eyes at their teachers (not when they are looking of course), and frequently end the day with hugs for their peers and their teachers. I know when my daughter is at that studio she is at her second home, with her second family, and loved very nearly as much as when she is with me. They protect her, they love her, and they want only the best for her.

At the recital last night I watched as these kids bolstered each others confidence, encouraged great performances, and shared sympathetic tears when mistakes were made. These kids know each others pains and joys. They are sisters.

Waiting in the Wings 6-25-16

Dance sisters waiting for their queue.

FDP doesn’t just teach dance. They teach grace, intelligence, strength, the rewards of hard work, the will to fight, the desire to support others, and they teach that friendship and trust are the most valuable treasures in the world (with the occasional exception of bobby pins…but more about that in a minute). Meghan, Tito, and all of the teachers they hired, are blessings to the kids at FDP and to the parents. I wonder if they know how much of an impact they have on these kids – not just for a recital, but for their entire lives.

Last night was the big Spring Recital. They work half the year for this thing. It’s huge. There were actually three shows this year because it’s just too big to put into one. The other moms and I, some of whom learned chasses and port de bras along with me a decade ago, all spend our day back stage working together to make sure the girls get the support they need. Say the word “hair spray” and five different bottles are held up for your use. Need a bobby pin – because those little f’ers are more valuable than gold mid-recital – the only question asked is, “what kind?” Yes, there are different kind of bobby pins. Lipstick? What color? There is no time to worry about pink eye if one of the kids forgot their mascara. Clouds of hair spray hang heavy in the air and every surface ends up coated in glitter.

SO. MUCH. GLITTER.

Nat Tapping 6-25-16

View from the wings of Nat tapping.

We get the quick change call when a girl has back to back dances, and the moms team up in the wings. One gets shoes, one gets hair, one gets tights, one gets the dress, etc. We can strip those kids down to nothing and rebuild them in literally 45-60 seconds. In the dark, and without making a sound – well no sound until it’s time to cheer for the kids who just finished a dance. Then we scream like our favorite football team just got a touch down. It’s a rare mom who gets through one of these events without tearing up with a sweet sentimental wave of emotion at least once.

At the end of the night, the curtain falls leaving us with dozens of exhausted kids, teachers, and parents. We gather up all the costumes, try to make sure we have our mascara, and the kids hug and tell each other how great they did and how much they love each other. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of bobby pins share the floor with the glitter. I don’t even know how that happens – but it really is just like home (I’ve thought about sending sympathy cards to my poor Dyson every time I see how many of those little things end up in it’s belly).

My daughter wants to dance for a living. There is nothing else in this world she wants to do. With FDP behind her, I have no doubt she’ll be able to.

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Grandma Jola and Pillow Mints

Grandma and Grandpa Jola

Grandma and Grandpa Jola

In my book my main character has to discover her forgotten past through a series of memories that return to her at inopportune times and nearly overwhelm her.  I’ve been struggling to write these memories in a compelling way that gives the reader an emotional connection to her.  I keep describing them as images that fly or float through her mind.  But memories are so much more than that.

Today a co-worker gave me some pillow mints.  You know, those little, pastel, soft, mints that sort of melt in your mouth.  As soon as I saw them I was thrown into a world of sight, sound, smell, and texture.  Childhood memories consumed my thoughts as I popped one in my mouth.

My Grandmother kept pillow mints on her table.

Grandma Jola was a tiny, but fierce woman.  I remember her jet black hair that always got a little blacker on Tuesdays after she “washed” her hair in the garage sink.

I remember the sound of her broom running across the shag carpet as she brushed the vacuum cleaner tracks out.  If I close my eyes I can remember her voice, “Quitate, quitate!” as she swatted us out of the kitchen with her apron.  I remember the sound of her snapping her gum as she went about her chores.

Her hands always smelled of Jergens Almond Cherry lotion.  I remember the smell of Chile Verde and Enchiladas and Tamales and Pisole; smells (and tastes) that define comfort food for me and still make me smile no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

I remember the sliced white bread she would toast for breakfast.  The way the butter would melt perfectly into it – I’ve never tasted better toast.

I remember her old vinyl chair that all the grandkids used to poke holes in with our finger nails.  There was something oddly satisfying about feeling my fingernail pop through the vinyl.  She sat in that chair every day to watch her “stories” – soap operas.

When I was little I would reach up to hug her.  By the time I was a teen ager I had to lean down for hugs.  But she still called me Ronita.

I remember walking with her to do her shopping, she refused to drive.  We walked to Newberry’s or to Capwells every week or so to get the stuff she couldn’t get at the grocery store up the street from her house.  We would get grilled cheese sandwiches at the lunch counter.  I still think of her when I sit at a diner counter and spin on the stool, while I hear echoes of “Callate” spoken much more sweetly than you might think.

All this from pillow mints.

I know now how I need to re-write a few scenes.  Allannah, my main character, didn’t have a Grandma Jola, she was raised in a very clinical world.  But she still had all five senses.  That’s what she needs to unlock.  It’s not flat, cold images that will help her move toward her goal, it’s the sights, smells, sounds, and texture of a life worth fighting for.

Thank you Grandma for the reminder, for the pillow mints, for being such an important part of my childhood.  I miss you so much.  But I guess you’re never far from me.  You gave me my love of Mexican food (still can’t make a tortilla to save my life, though), a fondness for certain derogatory Spanish words, and the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of a memorable childhood.  I think it’s awesome that you are, even years after your death, helping me with my book.  Thank you!

I need to make some Chile Verde this weekend.

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Bluebirds

I know, I know, it's a Blue Jay, not a Bluebird, but it was the best free picture I could find.

I know, I know, it’s a Blue Jay, not a Bluebird, but it was the best free picture I could find.

I’ve always wanted to write a poem about Bluebirds.  They are very special in my family.  Every time we see one we remember loved ones we’ve lost.  We pause to remind ourselves how much we miss them, how fleeting life is, and how blessed we are to have so many connections and so much love.

Anyway, I finally wrote a poem about it while I rode to work this morning.  Let me know what you think!

Bluebirds

I see them
I hear them
Most of all, though, I feel them

Sometimes they call my name
Late at night, as I near sleep
Sometimes its a whisper
Sometimes a frantic call

Shhh, I say to the bluebirds
I’m trying to sleep
I have to wake early
I have to work
I have to clean
I have to cook
I have to write
Before I can sleep again

But they call anyway
Little bluebirds
Singing my name
The veil thins between awake and asleep
Between night and day
Between dark and light
Between what I know and what I feel

By the time the sun rises
I no longer hear loved ones call me
The light quiets their voices
I see blue birds flutter in the trees
And I know they are with me
Reminding me how the veil can never thin their connection
Between the chores, there must be love
There must always be time
Neither love nor time make themselves, the bluebirds say

A bright blue feather falls from the sky
In a flood of song, it lands in my hand
I gently close my fingers around it
Keeping it safe until I can add it to my collection

I smile, my eyes water a little
Warm and safe, ready for my day, I look to the sky
I love you too, I say to the bluebirds

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Bernie Sanders for My Son


I just changed my vote. Or at least who I plan to vote for.

I’ve said all along I like Senator Sanders. I like the words coming out of his mouth, but I don’t see how he would implement his ideas. He seems to think he’s going to get into the Oval Office and all of a sudden the Republicans are going to be agreeable. They’ll be all, “Sure, let’s let everyone go to college.” Or, “Sure, let’s invest in clean energy – sounds great! Can’t we all just get along!”

That’s not going to happen, people. If Senator Sanders gets into office, his grand ideas will never take shape. He will meet with a level of opposition that will make us remember the Obama Administration as a time of congressional harmony. That’s why my vote was going to be with Secretary Clinton in the hope she would walk closer to the middle and actually get something done.

I live in a middle-class world. I make good money; I might be rich if I lived in some places – but here in the Bay Area my situation is lower middle class. Hubby and I work hard to support a family of four. We make sacrifices every day to provide for our family. It’s cool, we are happy to do what we do.

But I flat out refuse to make my children’s education one of those sacrifices. They WILL go to the best college they are able to get into.

Our son is off to college later this year and we found out that, based on our income, the Feds are willing to loan us about $5,000 to pay for what will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 per year, depending on what school he chooses.

Apparently we make too much money. Who knew?

So now we have to look into a private and much more expensive loan to pay for our son’s education. We have to look into taking on life-altering debt so that we don’t deny a brilliant kid the education he deserves. So that we don’t throw yet another uneducated person into the workforce. So we don’t ensure our family forever stays in the lower middle class of America.

This is unacceptable.

I want to be very freaking clear here: My family does not deserve a loan any more or any less than anyone else in the country. I think we all deserve it – I don’t care where you were born, what language you speak, what deity you worship, or what color your skin is. We all deserve a chance.

I do not believe anything should be free. I just think everything should be reachable if we are willing to work for it.

Can Bernie Sanders reform college education? Can he make it so we don’t have to choose between food and education? I doubt it, to be honest. But the simple fact that he gets it, that he sees the problem, is good enough for me. He is the only politician out there demonstrating that he is compassionate towards my plight, that he wants my son, and in five years my daughter, to have an education that doesn’t deny my husband and I our retirement.

Senator Sanders gets it.

I’m sorry Secretary Clinton. I just change my vote.

Feel the Bern!

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Life and Fiction

love-you-1315655

Sometimes fiction mimics real life. Even Science Fiction. Sometimes it’s cool (just think about all the Star Trek stuff that’s really real now!). But sometimes it’s less cool.

On Tuesday this last week I wrote the back story for one of my favorite characters, Barb. In this scene she finds her husband nearly dead from the disease that is wiping out her world.

Barb is a strong woman, seriously strong. And funny too. Her strength and humor propels my story’s main character through much turmoil. This scene is Barb at her most vulnerable. It takes place before the book even begins, but having written the book, knowing Barb’s fate, knowing everything I put her through, my heart breaks with hers as she finds her beloved half dead.

Also on Tuesday, my Aunt Peggy, a seriously strong woman in her own rights, lost her husband, Vern. And our cousin Brenda lost her fight against cancer, leaving her husband Cliff behind.

At one point in my scene Barb begs with her husband to simply hear her words, “I love you.” She just needed him to hear her say it. Over and over and over again, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Barb poured her heart and her grief out as her beloved took his last breath.

Then she had to figure out how to take her next breath.

These words hit too close to home – which is probably why I wrote them. I didn’t know Uncle Vern was dying while I wrote those words. I didn’t know Brenda was dying. I didn’t feel the pain my Aunt or Cliff were living that very moment, but I guess I kinda did.

Hubby and I never walk away from each other without saying, “I love you.” For more than thirty years now, we’ve never closed our eyes at night without saying, “I love you.”

Three words, so simple. But it brings me peace to know that should I never see my beloved again he will know. I will know he knows.

Three simple words that when you say them the last time will break your heart. Barb knew she was saying them the last time, and wanted to make the most of them. She doesn’t get to say them anymore. Neither does Aunt Peggy. Neither does Cliff. I hope they were able to send their beloved’s off with an “I love you.”

You can read Barbs story here:  Barb’s Love.  But first, go tell your beloved how much you love him or her.

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Before the Plague

About a year after I announced I’m done with Palisade, I’m done again.  No really this time.  I have a wonderful group of BETA readers who are pouring through the pages with dedication and a fierce honesty.  I’m sure their advice will result in some more changes, though I feel the time for major changes is past.

I am not actively writing Palisade every day for the first time in years.  It feels a bit odd.  Like my arm was cut off odd.  So I decided to work on a series of short stories about the characters before Palisade starts.

This short story project started as I was writing the book.  I kept running into difficulties figuring out the character’s motivations.  What would Bradley say in this situation?  Why would Adam do that?  Why is Michael so intense?  How would Barb influence this scene?

I wrote a series of mini-stories featuring the characters before Palisade began as a mechanism for me to get to know them.  The stories were typed free form, no credit given for punctuation or grammar.  I just needed to get the ideas out.

I’m going through these little stories again checking for consistency and obvious technical issues and then publishing them here.  They are still in a fairly raw state, I kind of like them like that.  I think it lends a certain power to them.

I’m posting them to the “Before the Plague” page, the link is in the header above.  I’ll add another story every week or so until I run out.  I hope you’ll read them and let me know what you think.  With any luck they’ll make you want to read more!

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A Bed For Chaos or Puppies

Our children walking away from us when they were probably about 6 and 11.

Our children walking away from us when they were probably about 6 and 11.

My beautiful niece is a few weeks from having her first baby.  And, her brother’s beautiful wife is due to have their second early next year.

Having two new babies to celebrate, reminds me of the months before we had our first kid.  We moved into our house, set up the nursery, bought diapers, and bottles, and onesies, and pacifiers, and car seats, and everything else.  We took advice from parents, read books, and took classes at our hospital.   Then we waited.

Finally he arrived.  We had a son.  An amazing, beautiful, son.  I loved him more than I’d ever loved anything – just that easy.  He was perfect, no one could tell me otherwise.  Life was Magick, pure and simple.

Then we brought him home and reality set in.

All the planning and thinking we knew what we were doing, dove out the freaking window.  With all the subtlety of a pack of puppies, chaos stormed into our home.  It was very comfortable here.  We made a little bed for it.

After a while our new family settled into a routine and we thought we had that parenting stuff down.  Keep the kid clean and fed…no problemo.

Then he started crawling.  Chaos again ruled our world.  Fine.  Lock the cupboards, put up baby gates.  Easy Peasy.

Then he started walking.  Hello, chaos.  Then he started talking.  Welcome home, chaos, my old friend.  Then he started kindergarten.  Chaos and I became drinking buddies.

The ache of leaving your child in a stranger’s care for the first time is unforgettable.  And it never goes away.  That first time you let them go – they come back a little different.  And you ache for what was.  What comes back to you is better in many ways.  But still different.

Today he started his senior year of high school.  That old ache is still there.  I can’t protect him.  I can’t keep him safe.  Haven’t been able to for a long time.  All I can do is now is remember that he is an amazing, level-headed young man.  Perhaps he hides too much behind long hair and hoodies, but I know there’s still Magick under there.  Powerful Magick.

Sometimes it’s a sad and somewhat desperate fight to get to know him – to see through the smarmy answers, the annoyance at any interruption, the “I know’s”, the blame and the frustration of teenage-hood, or worst of all, the painful silence.

But anyone who takes the time to listen to his quiet voice and sparse conversation is touched by a kid with extreme intelligence, intense political acuity, a kind heart, and a sharp sense of humor.   People who know him don’t forget him.

I wouldn’t change a damn thing about him.  Not one single thing.  And I would give anything for him to see what I see when I look at him.

This time next year we’ll throw him out to the world – or at least to a college.  He’ll be on his own.  As much as I can’t protect him now, it’ll be even worse when he moves away from me.  I will worry, I will fret, I will freak the fuck out.  But I know when all is said and done, he’ll be fantastic.  Because he’s a perfect mixture of Magick and chaos.

Was it really almost 18 years ago that we brought him home?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we brought him to Kindergarten?  I’ve adjusted to chaos, finally.  I kind of like it.  And I’m not ready to let it go.

Luckily I still have my daughter, who carries chaos around like a badge of honor.  I don’t know what I’ll do when she leaves for college.  I’ll have to adopt a few puppies or something.  They can use the bed we got for chaos.

I hope my niece and nephew and their spouses recognize that we go from Magick, to chaos, to long hair and hoodies, to saying good bye, and back to Magick again in the blink of an eye.  As long as we keep our sense of humor, make every decision with the best interest and love of our children in mind, and we make that little bed for chaos to settle in, we’ll be OK and our kids will be great.

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