May 30th, 2006


We Remember You

Beau woke me up this morning by standing over me and pulling the ear plug out of my ear. I swam up out of my sexy dream to find him staring down at me looking panicked. He said, "Mom, did you hear that???" "No, what did you hear honey?" "That plane, that really loud plane! It was so loud it woke me up. The whole house was shaking. I thought it was going to bomb us or crash into our neighborhood." It took me a minute to remember that it was Memorial Day and that every year some of the men who pilot the old World War II planes will fly them over the cemetery which is really close to our house. They fly back over our neighborhood when they're returning to the airport. They fly low and their engines make a lot of noise. It sounds like a plane going down.

I feel so sorry for our kids who are still dealing with fear and anxiety because of the attacks on 9/11. Beau was getting ready for school when it happened. He was downstairs with the television on. He was only in fifth grade, and because of this, he sometimes equates planes with danger, especially planes behaving erratically, or in ways that seem out of the ordinary. It doesn't surprise me at all that Beau thought something awful was about to happen this morning. For the last several years there's been so much talk about terrorism that it's no wonder they worry. I mean all you have to do is open up your browser and it's right there in your face, another bombing.

It feels wrong to say HAPPY Memorial Day, when I know that more than two thousand American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq, (this doesn't include Iraqi guardsmen and police, or nonmilitary personnel; journalists, and contractors), and that's not counting the injured, which I think is up around eight thousand and something, and these are people who are so severely inured that they can't return to duty. There are another eight thousand who were patched up and sent right back to work. This is just so insane and I feel so helpless.

My heart truly goes out to all of these people, people on duty, separated from their family members and loved ones, and all of the people who've been injured or lost their lives. I can't even begin to try to understand how far reaching the consequences of all of this are. Husbands and wives, parents and children, bereft. The Iraqi's hate us. Most of the rest of the world sees us as greedy tyrants. And here are all of these people stuck in the middle, just doing their duty, keeping their word, doing what they've sworn to do. All I can do is pray and hope and be so thankful that my son is here with me at home.

I'm staying up late to keep Beau company. Poor Beau, he's in the last phase of completing his portfolios for school and even though it's 2:46 in the morning he's still got another half hour of work ahead of him. He's behind because, like me, he's a procrastinator and sometimes does his best under pressure. He also had his sixteenth birthday party on Friday and one of his friends slept over, which kept him busy for part of Saturday. He's also created his own game server to host one of the online games he plays with his friends and he's been busy with that.

Anyway, I told him I'd stay up as long as he does, in case he needs help with anything. He keeps popping in and out and calling me on the intercom. I think it makes him feel better to know I'm staying awake with him. He needed something to paint his fish with, (He has this genetics project that he has to do with models of iridescent goldfish), so I found some iridescent gold nail polish for him. Luckily for him, my hoarding behavior extends to nail polish, so I've always got plenty of polish in pretty much any color. If I'd known in advance I could have bought some cool acrylic paints, but nail polish will always do in a pinch. We've done this before and it worked out pretty well. You should see how cool polish can look on canvas.

Beau just paged me on the intercom to tell me his friend Jose is up late too. They're IMing each other. He's so happy to have a friend to talk to while he's doing his work. Jose said, "Hey Beau man, what you need is a lot of caffeine and some REALLY LOUD music."

I feel so sorry for him, but it's his own fault. I warned him several times that this would happen, that he'd be up late working and worrying about his portfolios, but he has to learn his own lessons. I certainly didn't listen to my parents or teachers. I don't think I even learned about planning out work in advance, or delayed gratification, until I was in my thirties.

Portfolios are these compilations of work learned during the year, that the kids make at New Roads, at the end of every year, in place of final exams. Basically they create these super-organized, highly detailed binders filled with all of their work, and their assessment of that work, that they call portfolios. I think it's a great idea because it gives them these organized bundles of their work, and their thoughts about this work, that they can keep forever and refer back to if need be, but they all hate it, because it's so time consuming. I think tests can be a bigger waste of time, most of the time you're only memorizing material for the sake of spewing it back out for the exam, and then it's forgotten. This process is much more comprehensive and learning friendly. I think the kids come away from it with an even greater understanding of what they learned in each of their subjects over the course of the year. They think it's a waste. I guess time will tell. I so love this school. I hope it remains this way.

My friend and neighbor Karyn had a Memorial Day party this afternoon that I went to. I was running late so I stopped in to say hello, dropped off my contribution, which was a pathetic bag o' tortilla chips, (I always try to at least bring a nice dish, or gift, but I only just learned about this party, and there wasn't time to put anything together for her, so I had to grab something left over from Beau's party, it was chips or Jell-O, I figured the chips would work out better), and then told her I had something to do and would be right back.

I went to the Veterans Cemetery to pay my respects. I always try to go there on Memorial Day. One year we took Beau and had a picnic. I really like the idea of remembering and honoring the dead. I love how my Latino friends honor their loved ones who've passed away, and my Iranian pals are really great about it too, they wash their loved ones bodies themselves. I don't think I could do that, but I've always made a point of visiting my Grandparents, my Dad, and my Uncle Doug who's buried near Marilyn Monroe. I don't know why we've lost our tradition of visiting and celebrating our ancestors and loved ones who've died. It's sad really.

I went to the cemetery and took pictures of all of the thousands upon thousands of flags that the Boy Scouts put on each grave. I drive past this cemetery every day but you don't really get a sense of how vast it is, how many people are buried there, unless you go in and walk around. It's staggering.

I cleaned off a few tombstones that had dried grass piled up on them. I looked at the names of some of the men and women who had died and said prayers for them. I cried. I hadn't expected it to be so emotional, but it really was. The feeling was intense, very palpable, like the kind of feeling you get when you visit any place where a lot of people have been grieving. And this place is so sad, row upon row upon row of tombstones, tombstones as far as the eye can see, tombstones of people who've died in wars. I walked among the graves and touched some of the stones. There were tombstones of soldiers from every war. A man I met and spoke with told me they even had people buried there who'd fought in the civil war. How is that possible? He seemed sad. He said, "Everyone forgets, nobody cares about these people anymore. It's a shame." I told him that I thought a lot of people cared and pointed out all of the people who were coming by to visit, but he was too sad to take this in.

There was an older man with a small boy who was walking around digging holes and planting flags. I saw a couple who'd brought their two little girls who were driving around. There was a woman just slightly older than me who came by with a bouquet of white flowers. She looked so sad. There were soldiers, an elderly couple walking and holding hands, and two of the coolest looking elderly women, in a vintage white convertible, with white hair, and a little white dog.

You could kind of put people into categories; there were a lot of people visiting and taking pictures, (that'd be my category), and there were parents teaching their children about the wars and the lives lost, grieving wives, parents, and family members, and there were people who you could sort of sort by age and dress. Since people are buried there in a semi-organized fashion, grouped according to the wars they fought in, I could confirm my guesses by watching to see where people ended up. Vietnam veterans and their families and loved ones were easier to spot for some reason, families of people who'd lost their lives in more recent conflicts were particularly poignant and painful to see. The graves that were covered with flowers made me cry. It was nice though to see that these people hadn't been forgotten, that someone had cared enough to bring flowers, or decorate a tombstone, because there were so so many graves that stood alone but for the tiny flags. I took a lot of pictures and then left my camera in the car so I can't share them with you tonight.

God, how I hate war. It breaks my heart.

On a much less important note, my eyesight seems to be deteriorating. It's changing pretty quickly here. I keep having to buy stronger reading glasses, but now it's clear that I need to go to the eye doctor, because something else is up. I have chronic dry eyes, which goes with the fybromialgia, and they always hurt, but not being able to see well really sucks. I'm upset about it, but I know this is nothing compared to what other people go through, so I don't really mean to complain, just rambling on a late Monday night.

I'm having trouble seeing near and I'm starting to have trouble seeing far. Everything seems blurry and I can't quite focus. I've always been an extremely visual person and of all the senses I've always picked vision as the one I'd choose to keep if I had to give up all the rest. I'd give up taste first, then smell, touch, hearing, and sight, in that order. I don't know why I think about these things but I do. Anyway, it sucks to have always had 20/20 vision all of my life, and to see, or not see, it going. Such a reminder of how rapidly I'm aging. Aging sucks, sorry, but it does. I'll try to come up with a more positive take on this as I go along, but for now, I'm not too thrilled about it.

Karyn made a great mix tape for her party. It was a lot of fun. She has nice friends too. I won't say who, in case she's reading this, but it looked like "someone" snuck off in the middle of the party to, ahem, have some fun, with someone else. A couple of the women wanted to spy and burst in on them. The rest of us were left to fend for ourselves for a while, so we made S'mores and wondered about whether this particular guy was right for this particular gal. I hope so. I want her to be happy.

Scott was off recording my namesake song with a new producer today. Afterwards he came and picked me up and we went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. We were both too tired to go to a movie afterwards, or do anything else, so he went home and I hung out with Beau in the kitchen, where he was doing his homework.

I'm wondering how my friend Mary is.

Some of the cats are snoring. I know one of you has been praying or thinking good thoughts for Curly Girl and Rook because they're hanging in there and Rook in particular has been improving. Thank you so much!

How's that for a super exciting entry?

Big hugs,