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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My mom has no filter

A few weeks ago I listened to a story on NPR’s Invisibilia, about Maria Bamford. Listen to it here.  She is a comedian, she impersonates her mother, she is hysterical, she makes you think.  I wish I was just a tiny bit as funny as she.  The story reminded me of my mom.  My mom has no filter, and never does she see that what she said is inappropriate, offensive, or hurtful.

There are many reasons I moved 2,000 miles away from her.

When I see her, she never can get through a visit without saying something insulting to me, pointing out something obvious, or just being offensive.  For years, every visit, she spewed her thoughts that she didn’t believe I could ever be in a monogamous relationship.  Every time I saw her.  Through both marriages.  For years.  Granted, neither marriage lasted, but my fidelity wasn’t one of the many problems.

Several years ago I visited her for five days.  This was the first time I had seen since I had gotten a divorce from #2, and since I had been dating women.  I had been through a whole lotta shit.  That I came through on the other side with a decent disposition, outlook,  and relatively happy was impressive.  I looked ok, I hadn’t fallen apart, I was fine.

Every night, when I went to bed, I acknowledged to myself that she had held her tongue. It was so nice.  Yet, unfamiliar and unsettling.  The last day I was there, when saying “goodbye, wonderful to see you, I’ll miss you, I love you…”, she slid in, “Honey, it’s so wonderful to see you.  Thank you for visiting.  I can tell that you’re happy, and you look really good.  Even though you’ve gained weight.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!  I felt elated, like I had won some great prize!  Thank you, Mom.  I felt at ease, and like my visit was complete.

I find comfort in knowing that some things never change.

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Massage and Zion thoughts

Yesterday was another great Saturday.

Massages, stretching workshop, gourmet hot dogs, and this-

Caphin and cajeta milkshake.


There were many odd things that happened during the day, one was in between the massages and stretching workshop.  We had enough time to go for a little snack, to Zoe’s for some hummus and pita.  We were walking back to the car and we heard someone on the other side, “Help me.  Someone, please, help me.”  I saw the top of a head, through the windows of the car.  M and I were sure that someone was in need – had fallen, or was hurt.  I walked around the car and there was an older, heavy woman sitting on her walker seat, in the middle of the driveway to the parking lot.  Again, she asked for help.  Still sure she was hurt, I went over.  She told me that she had gotten out of the hospital and had to get the bus home, she needed about $2.50.  I gave her $5.  She stood up and pushed her walker along, at a pretty decent clip.

It was odd.

About five years ago my dad and step-mom went on a road trip, pulling their R.V.  They went from Utah to Missouri, over to the Carolinas, back West to Tennessee, and then to me in Texas.  My step-mom told me the story of my dad giving a man in North Carolina $20.  She wasn’t upset, but just beside herself that he gave someone that much money, which may have been used for beer, or drugs, or cigarettes, not for food or shelter.  My dad said, “Maybe that’s the case.  But, maybe he will use it for food. No matter what, he might be a little warmer.”  My dad is the most kind man I know.  He has a pure heart, is loving, giving, and sees the best in people.

I’m so glad I’ll see him in a few days.  And, now that I’m massaged, stretched, cortisone shot in my foot, I’ll be ready to go for a little hike in Zion.

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A Child’s Honesty

One of our autistic students comes to my office every morning.  Last year, when she was in the 9th grade, she wanted to “girl talk”, talk about dogs, and show me her favorite cartoons on her iPad.  Now that she’s in the 10th grade, she puts on her headphones, listens to music, occasionally shows me a cartoon or video, and often interrupts and interjects.

Last week she noticed I cut my hair, “Miss Sky, there’s something different about you, I think it’s your hair.”

I told her that yes, I did.  My secretary said, “Isn’t it cute?”  My student shrugged her shoulders.  I said, “So, I guess you don’t like it?”

She said, “Ya, it’s okay.”  Then she turned her head, and shielded her mouth, like you would if you were going to whisper and tell a secret, and audibly said, “No, I really don’t.”  She turned back to me and said, “Whatever, it’s your hair-do.”

I love this kid.  She starts my day with joy.

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Stole My Thunder

M has four adult children.  They’re all smart, they’re all GT, but the oldest, a girl, is also very knowledgeable.  She knows about a wide variety of things – politics, sports, restaurants, money, she speaks Russian, listens to NPR every day, works non-profit – you get it.  She has something to say about everything.  This may come across like I’m jealous, or resent her, which is not the case.  Damnit, she stole my thunder!

I’m at the age when your doctor says, “It’s common for women your age…”, or “As women age…”.  I’ve been avoiding some of those issues for several years.  Lady part issues.  I’ve been plugging along with irregular, river like periods, and intermittent double-over-in-pain cramps.  Simply, to avoid.

Last November I finally went to the doctor.  I have five or six fibroids, a couple of them pretty wicked.  She could scrape the most problematic one, but at some point my uterus has to go.  It’s not critical that I get a hysterectomy now, but I will need to at some point. Doctor said she will try to do it laparoscopic, but the fibroids are so large she may have to do a full incision, so be prepared to take six weeks off.  I can’t take six weeks off!  I’m a lowly school counselor.  So, I’ll get this bad boy done in June.  A reason to spend my Texas summer inside, guilt free. I might even score some relaxing time in the hospital.

I’m the lucky winner! I am going to be resident expert on the not-so-coveted hysterectomy! I am going to be able to talk about the uterus, “as women age” issues, recovery, the best pain meds, support pillow, and the most comfortable underwear.  This. Bitch. Is. Mine!

Last month it was found that oldest daughter had a fucking grapefruit sized fibroid.  It had to come out immediately.  What the fuck?  Didn’t I just say that this bitch is mine? Did I not just claim the glory of being the first person in my circle to get a hysterectomy?

Oldest daughter didn’t get a hysterectomy, but she did get an incision and several fibroids removed.  She even got to stay in the hospital.  She is fine, thank God. I’m so thankful for that.

Now she can tell me all about support pillows and underwear.  But she doesn’t need to tell me anything about pain meds, I got that.  I am my mother’s daughter.

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