Story 1- mom without boundaries 

I called my mom today. There is no predicting the direction the conversation will take. 

The conversation began with, “Hi honey, I’m great today. I went to the dentist and all six teeth I have left are in good shape.”

The conversation ended with, “Thanks for calling. I got the good prunes from Costco so I need to go poop now.”

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As often happens I am saying, “I wish I would have done this sooner.”  This time I’m referring to writing. There’s no reason I have not written here for six months. Well, there are a few: insecurity, laziness, jumbled thoughts, insecurity. But the point of this blog isn’t to impress anyone. It isn’t to demonstrate fantastic writing skills, perfect grammar, or a unique style. It’s for me. If you laugh, are moved, connect, enjoy, or are impressed in any way, fantastic. If not, that’s okay.

Now that I’ve said that, I’m back. There have been some funny things that happened during the past six months. There have probably been some sad and moving things as well. There has also been a hysterectomy. I feel like I need to write about the hysterectomy. This has thrown me for a loop.

That’s to come.

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I wasn’t sad to tell SLC goodbye. But in what other airport is there a piano being played in the food court?   

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More from Happy Land

  1. Everyone smiles. Seriously people? Why are ya’ll so damn happy? It’s hot! It’s 106 degrees. Hot! Be grouchy. Like me.

2.  The streets are clean. People don’t liter.

3.  Not only is the parking lot at the hospital free, valet parking is free. Not only is it free,       if you just need to run in for 10 minutes they will leave your car right in the front.

4.  People walk and ride their bikes.

5.  If you are driving, these pedestrians and bike riders expect you to stop. Folks, you           aren’t in Portland.

6.  What’s up with the criss-cross street under the freeway.

Under the freeway, drive on the wrong side of the road.

Under the freeway, switch to the other side of the road.

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You know you’re in Utah when…

Yesterday I went by the grocery store on my way back to my aunt’s house. The perky blonde hair, blue eyed girl said hello, and told me that she’s asking people questions today.  Ok.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

A: Do good in school.  Or, “Don’t date him!”

Q: Batman or Spiderman, and why?

A: Spiderman. Who wouldn’t want to climb buildings?

She rang up my three items, and I paid. I asked her why she’s asking questions today, thinking it must some some experiment. She told me that she just hates the usual greetings and small talk she has every day. She wants to have conversations.

Slow down. Talk to people. Enjoy.

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The Things People Say

A student walking by said to me, “Some day I’m gonna steal your eyes.”


“It’s a complement, Miss.  You have pretty eyes. I’m gonna steal your eyes.”

Kid, that’s a little closer to creepy than complement.

A co-worker was telling me how she is trying to get her boyfriend to eat whole wheat bread.  She said, “But, you know, you can’t make a horse drink some water.”

No, I don’t know.

Threw is the new Ho.

For example, “There’s that Threw, Micki.”

This is the time I would rather be a Shrew.

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Welcome back from spring break. I guess.

I hoped that today would be an easy day.  I hoped for quiet, no drama, working on schedules, ideally not even seeing students.  Hope.

Last week, during the break, I heard about a shooting at one of the apartments zoned to us.  The news reported that there were several young men, 17-22, hanging out and playing with the gun.  It was accidental.  One of the boys died.  The police didn’t report the names.  First thing this morning I was told that the boy who died was my student last year, he had dropped out.  Gang member, hardened, smart, kind, sense of humor.  We called him Sebastian.  That wasn’t his name, it was a little joke we had with him, I don’t remember the story.  But we laughed.

I enrolled a brand new student.  New to the country.  Sweet kid.

The first phone call to the office was from a mom.  Her daughter tried to kill herself this morning.  She took pills.  They were at the emergency room.

I called our social worker to tell her about the girl.  She thought I was calling about the apartment fire.  I didn’t know about the apartment fire.  Nine units were destroyed, at least two of our families are now without a home.  Everything is gone.  Add that to the 20+ homeless students we already have.  I don’t think any of the apartment fire students are mine.

Then I found out the boy who shot the gun is a senior at our school.  He accidentally shot and killed his friend.

I got another new student.  A girl.  She started this school year at one of our other high schools.  Apparently she’s a fighter, has a temper, a nasty mouth, doesn’t control herself.  She ended up in our district alternative placement school.  Usually students get sent there for 30 – 60 days, depending on what they did.  If they’re good, they almost always come back early.  Not her.  She ended up in juvie justice placement, for fighting.  She did a short stint there, before getting locked up, for aggravated assault.  Of an officer.  She’s now out, is in school, with an ankle tracker.

11:00 brought no new major problems – just bullies, cell phones, mentors, stairwell lovers, a teacher cursed out, a student walked out of class, and students crying because one friend died, by the hand of another.

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England, Part 1

6:00 A.M., January 1, 1999.  I was only a little hungover, but very tired.  My brother had gotten married the night before, and I was at the airport with my very pregnant sister, her husband, and their three year old.  They were moving to England for him to do part of his residency.  Our mom paid for me to go, just for five days, to help my sister get settled.

We were booked on different flights to Heathrow, flying through different airports.  My plan was to take a sleeping pill, so I would arrive refreshed and ready to help.  Weather interfered, redirected my 1st flight, and I ended up on the same plane to Heathrow.  Another passenger was kind enough to move, so I could sit across the aisle from my sister.  I’m sure he/she was very happy to move.

My sister was eight months pregnant, on a seven hour flight, with a three year old on her lap.  My brother-in-law slept the entire time.  Without thinking it through, I took the sleeping pill.  I struggled to stay awake, so I could help my sister with my nephew.  It was a very rough flight.  He bounced all over the place, had no intention of sleeping.  He wanted to run the aisles.

We finally made it, sister and I felt like shit.

Because of my last minute change, my suitcase didn’t follow me.  Which is a good thing, because my sister and family had two large moving trunks and three suitcases.  Plus the kid and supplies needed to be readily accessible for him.  After spending a fair amount of time in the airport, exchanging money and trying to find some kind of decent snack we hit the road for the 2nd part of the journey.  We hauled all of that luggage in a taxi to somewhere in London, but still had to walk a fair distance, pulling all of this shit, to the train station, for a damn near three hour trip to Norwich. My BIL had his cowboy hat on for the entire trip.

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I got my spirituality on

We went to Rothko Chapel. I don’t get it.  We went to “The Infinity Machine” installation at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel.  This was scary.  Yes, read the article, watch the video, and you think it looks great.  It’s not.  It’s scary.  I stayed, and tried not to let on, since M seemed to be enjoying it.  Someone dropped their keys in the foyer, I jumped about eight feet, and M suggested we leave.  She wasn’t feeling it either.

We walked on the University of St. Thomas campus, to the labyrinth.  Labyrinth’s are funny things to me.  It’s supposed to be this meditative, spiritual experience.  The first time M and I went I totally didn’t get it.  We walked the labyrinth, and I somehow managed to stay quiet, but I really didn’t see the purpose.  I was distracted by the cars, a child was running around making noise, there were too many bee’s…  Today I actually got a little thoughtful and meditative.


Walking the labyrinth, at first, all I was thinking about how long it was taking.  I was looking at things to take pictures of, wondering what was on the other side of some roses, just generally not present.  Then I thought about walking off.   Afterall, it’s not like it’s a corn maze and you can’t see through, some alarm is going to sound, or people are going to point and laugh because you didn’t make it.

But, I kept walking, I blocked out the car noise.  Other than one couple who walked by, all I heard was the water.  Other than a glimpse at M now and then, all I saw was the path. M and I were on the same path, but at different parts.  We met in the center.  We paused for a minute, looked around, talked a little.  She had started the walk in, so I started the walk out.

For me, walking the labyrinth is a lesson in many things – commitment, dedication, following through, following your heart.  It would have been simple to just walk away.

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Visit with my dad

I made it to visit my dad for his early birthday surprise.  It ended up not being a surprise, because I couldn’t keep it to myself.  Every time I talked to him I wanted to tell him.  Also, I wanted to tell him so he would make sure there was an air mattress for me.  It’s a thin one, designed for camping, but taken with a muscle relaxer it’s working out just fine.

What remained a surprise is that step-mom had invited her children and their families.  Fortunately only the youngest, his wife, and two girls came.  The girls are four and two.  This family my favorite. Unfortunately, and fortunately, my dad and I are both really good with kids, they love us, and we easily get pulled into playing with them.

The oldest girl wanted to play in the Secret Garden.

Garden gate

Dad built the wall from slabs he chiseled off of a fallen boulder.

The girls were playing castle, one the princess, the other the guard.  Dad and I were sitting on the bench inside.  He said, “I bet babysitting wasn’t what you thought you’d be doing on your visit.”  Nope, it wasn’t.  It wasn’t his idea either.  He was a little disappointed.  But while the girls played, Dad and I sat on the bench and talked.

Yesterday we all went to Zion National Park to hike.  It was an amazing day – the sun was shining, there was a breeze, and the red rock was ablaze.  It turned out to be a good thing that the step brother and family were there.  Step-mom walked with them and played with them, and Dad and I were able to spend some time together.  For a little bit I sat on a rock by the river, while he took photos.

Sitting by the river, with my dad.

Side note – I almost drown in this river when I was little.

Today, the step family left.  Dad and I spent the afternoon walking downtown and talking.  It’s beautiful Spring weather here.  There are crocus and daffodil coming up, kids were playing in the water fountain, there were sidewalk sales, and fruit trees are in bloom.

Fruit tree outside of Brigham Young's winter home.

Fruit tree outside of Brigham Young’s winter home.

It’s been a wonderful trip.

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