Saturday, February 26, 2011


This is a picture taken from my driveway.

This is a snowman in my neighborhood

I love the snow and don't mind the cold.  I ski and snowshoe and love to be outside in it.  But really, this is enough.

More snow predicted for tonight.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Notebook

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from Daphne’s mother. I was almost too scared to open it. Inside was a handwritten note. Short, but certainly much more cordial than her last curt response to me - she simply and politely said there were some things she would like to discuss with me if I would be so kind as to call her, then listed her number. So kind? This woman who was so inhuman to her daughter and so rude to me was asking for my kindness?

It took me two days to summon the courage to call her. Two days and two sleepless nights wondering what this woman wanted from me and wondering if I would be able to get past my hurt feelings and pride to even talk to her. My hands were shaking and my voice trembling when I finally called.

She was polite but reserved and requested if we might be able to meet in person. Why? I asked. Again she said that there were things we should discuss and she had something she thought was mine. Something? They stole everything I owned. Every personal memento, every piece of clothing, every thing Daphne and I owned together. I could feel my anger rising.

I asked if Daphne’s father would also be there. She told me that he had passed away last fall. Last fall? My mind started to calculate, that would have been right around the time I sent that first letter to them asking for forgiveness. Yet Daph and her father are not buried together. As my brain was going through the endless things that could mean, I heard my voice saying, “I am so sorry for your loss and yes of course I will meet with you.” What?

I had to be in NYC and so we made arrangements to meet at a restaurant there. I knew her as soon as she walked in - I was looking right into Daphne’s eyes. She was cordial in her introduction. I was stammering. What the hell did this woman want from me?

She began to talk but I really didn’t hear a word. What kind of a mother disowns her own and only child? I couldn’t get past my disdain. I couldn’t get past her eyes. Something about mistakes. Something about the pain. Was she looking to me for forgiveness? Something about her being sorry it took her so long to do this. Do what?

And then she asked me a few questions. Mostly about the work Daphne was doing, something about a friend of hers. Nothing about our relationship. And then about how Daph felt about their separation. Separation? You threw her out of her home when she was 17. How do you think she felt? I think I may have been cruel in my responses. Worse, I think I wanted to be.

And then she reached into her bag and handed me a notebook. A simple, spiral notebook. What is it? I asked. "A diary," she said. "It was obviously written to you." Holy fuck. I opened it and flipped through the pages looking at her handwritten words, tears welling up and quickly spilling over. And then without further words, she said thank you, stood up and walked out, leaving me sitting there with this little piece of Daph.

I read the first entry. It was a note asking me to get in touch with her academic advisor and give him her research notes. Very hopeful. Very much looking toward the future.

I read the rest of it when I got home and could read it privately. The book is not filled. Only 15 pages. Eight weeks from the time she left the hospital until the end. A journal, filled with so much love, yet documenting an unmistakable descent into depression.

I now have many of the answers to questions that have haunted me for so long. Some answers that have lifted a measure of the debilitating weight of guilt. (Yes, she knew I tried to see her) But also some very painful realities. So hard to read how much pain she was in and know she was all alone in it. Unbearable for me to think about really.

I’m sure it will take me a very long time to digest. But I can forever hold in my hand a very real piece of her. The joy and the pain. It is both eerie and comforting at the same time. I am bursting with too many feelings.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Freeping the Church

A few weeks ago I talked to a resident, Sandra, looking for some affordable housing. Our conversation extended over a couple of days and revealed that she, and her son, were victims of some very serious domestic abuse - her ex serving 5 years for felony assault.    I invited her to lunch in the hopes of getting to know her better.

When I picked her up she invited me into her house. The outside was lovely, but inside the entire home was gutted: no stove, no real furniture, plywood floors, sheets hanging instead of curtains, etc. She lives entirely from meals she can make in an old microwave and sleeps on a pad on the floor. Obviously the financial need is great.

The first thing I noticed was that she lived across the street from one of the founding women of my former church, JD. My first thought was that I should call JD and try to get the church folk involved in some fund raising/furniture collecting venture. And so I asked Sandra she knew JD? She looked at me and asked “Do you like her?” And my honest answer was ‘I do not trust her. Although she was always nice to me, I know she did a lot of crap to other folk she did not like.’ Sandra then went on to tell me that JD had told her that “the police coming to her house so often looked bad for the neighborhood; why couldn’t she replace the window sheet with some drapes as it was bringing down the property values; and if she couldn’t live with her husband, why didn’t she just pitch a tent in the back yard?”

Okay, maybe the fund-raising thing was out. Gotta love those christian folk.

We continued onto lunch, chatting and getting to know each other.

One story she has telling me was how she had befriended an elderly woman (also a member of my church) years ago, who had once gotten stuck in a snow bank near her house. Sandra made her some tea and drove her home. They became friends. The elderly woman is now in a nursing home, and Sandra continues to call and visit her. At one point, the elderly woman had invited Sandra to attend the church and Sandra mentioned this to her neighbor, JD. And JD responded to Sandra, “why would you go to our church? You are not our kind.”

I asked “what’s not our kind?” And Sandra responded that she wasn’t sure. “Being a victim of domestic abuse or being Jewish.” Which made my eyes water. And then I told her my story with that church and how one interim pastor imagined I was obsessed with her, she complained to the elders, who wrote me a letter stating they would expel me from the church, never told me the reasons why, and refused to ever meet with me to discuss it.

Sandra shook her head through this whole story - with equal parts of belief and disbelief. And then she said “let’s go to the church and sit together. Right up front.” Again I laughed and said that I would never walk into that church again. When I dropped her back home she again asked me if I wanted to go to the church. When I said no thanks, she laughed and said “chicken.”

But I have been thinking about all the stories I have heard about people who have been rejected by this church. A woman I work with told me she attended once and was told she was not properly dressed. A gay person left when the interim pastor circulated a flyer about a discussion whether gay folks should have a role in the church. Another friend left just in disgust with what happened to me. The secretary who is a single mother was fired just weeks before xmas because apparently after years of doing her job, she was no longer qualified.

5 years ago the average weekly attendance at this church was almost 200 people. Last year it was barely over 100. Obviously there are a lot of stories out there.

How cool would it be to gather these folks and freep the church? Just assemble all the misfits who didn’t quite make the grade, who were made to feel unwanted and less than. We could walk in together, spread ourselves across the pews and just take back the church.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Still Standing

I realize that I have not written here in quite awhile. I am doing what I need to do, moving through my days, just trying to avoid the mine fields. January in a nutshell -

I have returned to therapy to face my final darkness. It is hard and scary work and difficult to write about here.

Work has become a nightmare with a major project about to die because they can no longer get financing for all the bullshit conditions that were imposed of them by the politicians. It has now become my job to go to all the people/groups who had their hands out and ask them for concessions. Some of these people are the scum of the earth, know they have the upper hand, and are just jerking me around. It is my responsibility to negotiate this project back on track but I’m really tired of falling on the sword for it.

Hormones have once again taken over my house. I never know if I’m coming home to my best friend or her evil twin. Every day is an adventure there.

To date Peachie has been accepted into the highly competitive physical therapy programs at 10 colleges, including her top two choices. With those acceptances began the calls from hockey coaches doing their recruiting thing. Unfortunately these are mostly Division III schools so no athletic scholarship money and her grades were not quite good enough for those impressive presidential scholarships her sister got. Average yearly tuition: $45 - $50 grand. With every acceptance my head is spinning.

So January passed, one shell shocked day after the other. But I’m still standing. I’ll consider that a win.